Following the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, fans of the Black-and-Gold flocked to social media to denounce anyone and anything for their favorite team's demise. Mike Tomlin got a sizable share of hatred thrown his way, the ever-popular Todd Haley bore the brunt of the venom and, clearly, Landry Jones was targeted on more than a few occasions. The defense wasn't let off the hook, but the fan base which proudly boasts about their six Lombardi trophies lost sight of the big picture, which certainly isn't out of the norm.
The Steelers' loss, although deflating, is far from the end of the world for a team about to get their franchise quarterback back in the lineup to complete an offensive unit brimming with talent. The fact of the matter is simple, the goal is the make the post-season and the Steelers find themselves right in the thick of the hunt, even at 4-3.
If the playoffs started today (a ludicrous statement considering half of the season hasn't been played yet), the Steelers would be the No. 6 seed and play the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card round of the playoffs. But that isn't the story here. The story is that, despite a rather mediocre start to the 2015 season, the Steelers still control their own destiny in terms of getting a ticket to the dance held in Week 18, also known as the NFL playoffs.
After Week 7, the AFC Playoff Picture looks like this:
1. New England Patriots - 6-0
2. Cincinnati Bengals - 6-0
3. Denver Broncos - 6-0
4. Indianapolis Colts - 3-4
5. New York Jets - 4-2
6. Pittsburgh Steelers - 4-3
7. Oakland Raiders - 3-3
8. Miami Dolphins - 3-3
9. Buffalo Bills - 3-4
10. Kansas City Chiefs - 2-5
Obviously, the top-6 teams make the postseason, but looking at the breakdown of the playoff picture, the Steelers certainly control their own destiny throughout the second half of the season. Take a close look at the standings above and you'll notice something about the majority those teams. The Steelers play four of the top-7 teams in the second half of the season.
The Steelers still have two games with the Bengals, one of which is next Sunday in Week 8, and they host the Broncos, Colts and Raiders at Heinz Field. Nothing is certain in the NFL, but the one thing you hope to have as the month of December approaches is control of your own destiny.
The Steelers play the Bengals, Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks in the month of November. It will be this stretch of games which certainly will define whether Pittsburgh is in the driver's seat heading into the final month of the season, or if they're looking for help from other teams to make the playoffs. Let's hope it isn't the latter.