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Steelers News: What in the world happened to the AFC?

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When it comes to both brackets in the NFL Playoffs, it is safe to say it is the tale of two halves.

Wild Card Round Buffalo Bills v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

At the moment I write this short article, the New Orleans Saints are beating the Carolina Panthers in their Wild Card matchup. I watch both of these teams and find myself marveling at the fact this is a Wild Card game. Especially after watching the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills put on one heck of an exhibition of skill earlier in the day, just a hint of sarcasm there.

In my opinion, 5 of the 6 teams representing the NFC this year could go on to win the Super Bowl...it is that close. In the AFC? Try two. After the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, you are left with a bunch of teams making you wonder, “Is this it? Really?!”

This isn’t just the playoffs either. Just look at the AFC from top-to-bottom. Sure, you could say the Chargers and/or Ravens would improve the overall picture, but would they? Plain and simple, the AFC is a mess right now. The quarterback play is pretty much atrocious outside of the front runners, we just watched a Blake Bortles led Jaguars team beat Tyrod Taylor in a 10-3 playoff game, and it all starts right there.

You shouldn’t hear any complaining from Pittsburgh or New England, as it should only make their trips to the AFC Championship game easier. In the meantime, I’m left wondering, “What happened to the AFC?!”

Time to check in on the news surrounding the Steelers outside the walls of BTSC...

Ben Roethlisberger will get his wish.

The Steelers quarterback wanted another crack at the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he will get it Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. in an AFC divisional playoff game at Heinz Field.

The Jaguars advanced to the divisional round with a 10-3 victory Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in a wild-card game. In the other divisional playoff game, the New England Patriots will host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

The Steelers-Jaguars game will be a rematch of an October regular-season meeting. Roethlisberger threw a career-high five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns in the third quarter to propel the Jaguars to a 30-9 win. Leonard Fournette rushed for 181 yards on 28 carries and sealed the win with a 90-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

Roethlisberger completed 33 of 55 passes for 312 yards and a 37.8 passer rating because of the five interceptions. That prompted him to say, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore” in frustration over his performance.

Members of the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America had quite the decision to make late last month.

Balloting for the Joe Greene Great Performance Award was underway. Just like in 2008, there was no clear-cut player who stood out as the obvious choice for Steelers rookie of the year.

In 2008, that was because there were virtually no quality choices.

In recent years, there’s been too many.

In the not-too-distant past, it was rare for a Steelers rookie to make a significant impact. Troy Polamalu, for example, did not start his first season (2003). Patrick Bailey, an undrafted free agent special teamer for 12 games in 2008, was recognized as rookie of the year because, quite frankly, there were no other viable candidates.

For the first time since 2000, the Jaguars hosted a home playoff game in front of Duval. The crowd was roaring, the team was hyped up, all that was needed was a playoff victory to go along with it. Could the Jaguars get the biggest win in the last decade today?

Both teams traded inefficient possessions, neither getting the ball passed midfield. The Jaguars finally got what they needed when Myles Jack tipped a pass from Tyrod Taylor, which went into the hands of Aaron Colvin, who bobbled it, and finally brought it in. It was a hell of a time for Colvin to get the first interception of his career, setting the Jaguars up at the Bills 35-yard line.

The offense went onto to go 3 and out on a pathetic play calling drive, with two failed screens. One to Marcedes Lewis, who ran backwards. And another poorly thrown one to Chris Ivory, which was snuffed out by the Bills defense. The unwillingness to attack down the field killed the Jaguars early on.