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Why Steelers fans should root for their AFC North rivals in Week 16

Breaking down which teams to root for in Week 16 in hopes of a miracle playoff run for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Following a season-saving win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans can now sit back and root for the dominos to fall their way during this weekend’s NFL slate.

Let’s run down the official Steelers fan rooting guide for Week 16, where I’ll be asking fans to cheer for — who else, but a bitter AFC North rival.

Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans (+3)

Who you should root for: Browns

Did you ever think you’d see that above sentence typed by a Steelers fan?

Cleveland is currently 9-5 and has a grasp on the fifth seed in the AFC. The best thing for the Steelers would be for them just to win out, clearing out some of the squads standing in their way. The Texans are one of them. Houston is 8-6, and if they finish with the same record as the Steelers, they will get the nod due to their head-to-head win.

According to my calculations, two losses by the Texans are more likely than three by the Browns, so as much as it hurts to say… Go Browns?

Indianapolis Colts vs. Atlanta Falcons (-3)

Who you should root for: Falcons

This one isn’t all that complicated. The Colts trounced the Steelers last weekend, and currently hold the final playoff spot in the AFC. Because of the NFC factor, a Falcons win would be the most critical outcome of the day for Pittsburgh, improving their playoff chances drastically. But a Colts win would go a long way in diminishing them, as Indianapolis has the tiebreaker.

An important note — Houston and Indianapolis will go head-to-head in Week 18, meaning one of those teams will have to lose. So, if the Steelers win out and both Houston and Indianapolis have seven losses entering that game, Pittsburgh will leapfrog one of them, because someone, of course, will have to lose.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins (-2)

Here’s another game to keep an eye on, and it may just be the game of the week. Try and stick with me here.

The Buffalo Bills are still in contention to win the AFC East, so if Miami loses one of their next two games (Dallas, @ Baltimore) and Buffalo beats the Patriots in their next outing — the Week 18 game between Miami and Buffalo will be for the AFC East crown. If that matchup did occur, Steelers fans would root for the Dolphins over the Bills.

I know that’s a lot to digest, but the Steelers would own the AFC tiebreaker over the Bills (conference record) if both finish 10-7.

Let’s keep it simple: Go Cowboys.

Other general housekeeping items:

  • Root for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars in another AFC-NFC clash.
  • Honestly, I’d like to see the Ravens run away with the AFC’s top seed, rendering their week 18 game against the Steelers meaningless in hopes they’ll rest their starters. So, I’m rooting for Baltimore over San Francisco on Christmas night.

Rooting for the Browns and Ravens. In this economy? Bah humbug!