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Every time I think the Steelers are out of the playoff race, the AFC’s parity pulls them back in

The Steelers are still in the playoff race with one month to go in the 2021 regular season. Dare I dream the impossible?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

I’m not going to lie, there’s a huge part of me that wants to be done with the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers.

I’m 49-years old. I just started yet another new job that’s taking up a ton of mental and emotional space. Christmas is right around the corner, which usually means visiting 17 different friends/family members in a six-day span.

“Hey, how you making out on time?” (My new boss.)

“Hey, you think you can make it to my holiday party on time?” (Everyone who isn’t my new boss.)

I don’t have the time and/or emotional equity to worry about these sorry 2021 Steelers, with their youth and their age and their immaturity and their mature ligaments. I’m tired of the slow starts on offense. I’m sick of hoping that players like Henry Mondeaux and Isaiah Buggs can “get off their blocks” and play the run better on defense. I’m weary of arguing about untimely first-down celebrations and all of those groin injuries. I want you to miss me with all of that #FireTomlin talk.

I just really want to sit around and watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” over and over again on Tubi TV.

Yet, here we are with one month left to go in the 2021 regular season, and the Steelers, the team with all of that youth and age, the franchise with the 6-6-1 record and one that appears to be headed for yet another Mike Tomlin non-losing season (which is to say, 8-8-1), are still in the race for the playoffs.

To quote George Bailey, “Well, what do you know about that?”

Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with the Steelers and any sort of momentum they currently have (they have zilch). This is more about the crazy AFC and the parity the likes of which hasn’t been seen in the NFL since perhaps the late-80s.

The Steelers might be a pathetic 6-6-1 and currently in 11th place in the conference. They might only have a 13-percent chance of making the playoffs and just a five-percent chance of clinching the AFC North title, but they’re only a game behind the first-place Ravens in the loss column and a game-and-a-half out of first place. Furthermore, the Patriots, Chiefs and Titans, three teams that appear to be head and shoulders above Pittsburgh in the world of professional football, only have two fewer losses and three more victories.

It’s a crazy world, this AFC.

Speaking of crazy, am I insane for getting my hopes up thanks to a Sunday that saw the Ravens, Bengals, Raiders and Bills all lose, making their playoff chances just as uncertain as Pittsburgh’s?

I mean, while the 49-year old in me just wants this to be over, the nine-year-old Tony, well, he wants to go and watch old NFL Films shows from the 1970s and ‘80s on YouTube with titles like “The Championship Chase” and “Heart of Steel.” This is what happens when the little fan in me starts to dream about the postseason.

How can I reconcile my eternal desire for the Steelers to go on a run with the stark reality that Derrek Tuszka might have to help make that desire come true?

What happens if the Steelers defeat the Titans on Sunday? This is just a guess, but the 49-year old Tony probably won’t have the strength or the will to defeat the nine-year-old Tony over the final three weeks.