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AFC Playoff Picture: Steelers division hopes stay alive after Week 14 win

Despite defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14, the Pittsburgh Steelers would still be on the outside looking in if the playoffs were to start today.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14, it had to be a little deflating to walk into the locker room and see the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets both won as well. Not that it would take away from the tremendous win for Pittsburgh, but it meant the Steelers were still on the outside looking in, in terms of the current AFC Playoff Picture.

For the AFC, minus the Miami Dolphins who play on Monday Night Football, Week 14 is in the books. So, time to take a look at the current AFC Playoff Picture:

1. New England Patriots - 11-2 - BYE
2. Cincinnati Bengals - 10-3 - BYE

3. Denver Broncos - 10-3
6. New York Jets - 8-5

4. Indianapolis Colts - 6-7
5. Kansas City Chiefs - 8-5

In the hunt:
7. Pittsburgh Steelers - 8-5
8. Oakland Raiders - 6-7
9. Buffalo Bills - 6-7
10. Houston Texans - 6-7

After Week 14 there were a lot of crucial losses, and several impacted the Steelers. With the Texans and Bills losing, it puts them with the Raiders as the teams clinging for dear life for a postseason berth. In all likelihood, it is a three horse race for the final Wild Card spots in the AFC.

However, with the Steelers beating Cincinnati Sunday, and the Bengals losing Andy Dalton for at least the short term, it leaves the door open for Pittsburgh to possibly claim the AFC North crown. It might be a long shot, but there is still hope in the Steel City. Time to take a look at remaining opponents.

Cincinnati Bengals:
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at 49ers (4-9), at Broncos (10-3), vs. Ravens (4-9)

Pittsburgh Steelers:
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Broncos (10-3), at Ravens (4-9), at Browns (3-10)

For the Steelers to have a prayer at the division title, they would need to win the remainder of their games to finish 11-5, and would need the Bengals to lose their final 3 games to finish 10-6. The reason for this being the case is if both teams finish 11-5, Cincinnati would win the tiebreaker of common opponents if it was a tie. Cincinnati stumbling after their loss is possible, especially without Dalton, but their final 3 games are far from daunting outside of the game in Denver in Week 16.

With the Steelers path still clearly en route to a Wild Card berth, it then comes down to the Chiefs, Jets and Steelers for the two final seats at the table. Take a look at their remaining schedules:

Kansas City Chiefs:
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Ravens (4-9), vs. Browns (3-10), vs. Raiders (6-7)

New York Jets:
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Cowboys (4-9), vs. Patriots (11-2), at Bills (6-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers:
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Broncos (10-3), at Ravens (4-9), at Browns (3-10)

Again, could the Steelers make the postseason if they lose one of their final three games? Yes, but it would make life a lot more difficult on the boys in black and gold. Looking at these three teams, the Jets might have the toughest row to hoe of the group. Games on the road against Dallas and Buffalo as bookends with a home game against the Patriots could spell disaster for Gang Green, and help boost the Steelers' odds of making it to the dance.

At this point, nothing is a guarantee, but the Steelers do control their own destiny. If the Chiefs, Steelers and Jets all win the remainder of their games, which isn't likely, and there is a three-way tie for the two wild card spots, the Chiefs and Steelers would make the playoffs due to common opponents.

This is shaping up to be a crazy finish to the regular season for a lot of teams, but for the Steelers they hope to take care of their own business and let all the other chips fall where they may.