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It's 'win and in' for Steelers, not 'win and wait for help'

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The Pittsburgh Steelers qualify for the post-season with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. It could also set up a divisional championship game against Cincinnati in Week 17.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette picked up an interesting angle leading into the Steelers' Week 16 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

As he wrote Tuesday, 16 of the Steelers' 53-player roster had not experienced a winning season. Heading into the Steelers' Week 16 game against the Chiefs, those 16 players, along with others, haven't experienced the control of one's destiny. If they defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, they're in the post-season. They will also still be alive for a divisional championship, which, with a Steelers win, will be decided in a Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Pittsburgh.

Given that situation, it would be all but certain the game would be flexed to Sunday night, thus giving the Steelers a rematch of a 30-20 pounding they put on the Bengals in primetime in Week 15 last year.

But even then, after a big win, they needed to win out and get a lot of help to advance to the post-season. They covered their end, but after an improbable run of losses from other key teams (including Miami and Baltimore), the Chiefs couldn't top San Diego, who moved into the sixth wild-card spot.

It seems oddly fitting they'd get a chance to topple the Chiefs in Week 16 to earn them their first post-season game since January of 2012. They haven't won a post-season game since January of 2011.

The same divisional-championship game would be set up for the Steelers should they lose to the Chiefs but also get losses from Cincinnati (vs. Denver) and Baltimore (at Houston). It wouldn't carry with it the same kind of positive vibe, but making the Week 17 game mean something seems all but inevitable. Even with a loss to the Chiefs, a Bengals and/or Ravens loss could mean any one of those three teams are playing for the AFC's last wild-card spot. All of the AFC North's top teams could qualify for the post-season.

That kind of intrigue has to be felt throughout the Steelers' locker room, and in a winnable Week 16 game, it's time for them to continue exploiting a measure of control over their fate.