The Steelers lost what one may call a barn-burner, when they dropped a 39-30 affair to the two-time defending NFC-champion Seahawks at CenturyLink Field Sunday evening, a result that left Pittsburgh at 6-5 and on the outside looking in at the AFC wild card race.
Sure, the Steelers still have a more than realistic chance at making the playoffs, but anyone who thinks they deserve to be among the AFC elite and serious Super Bowl contenders along with the the Patriots, Bengals and even the Broncos, well, you're just kidding yourself.
The Steelers actually dominated most of Sunday's game, to the tune of 538 total yards to Seattle's 436. But thanks to three turnovers by Pittsburgh that led directly to 19 points by the Seahawks, the playoff picture is much grimmer right now than it was at kickoff time.
The Steelers, with a 3-4 conference mark, actually don't control their own destiny, and even if they somehow won out (an unlikely scenario, given how 2015 has unfolded), the playoffs still wouldn't be a guarantee.
Right now, Pittsburgh is 6-5, tied with the Colts, Texans, Chiefs and Jets. All four of those teams have better conference marks than the Steelers, and Kansas City owns the head-to-head tiebreaker, thanks to a 23-13 victory on October 25. Pittsburgh could still make the playoffs as either a fifth or sixth seed, but a Super Bowl season is probably out of the question.
In and of itself, there's no shame in dropping a back-and-forth road game to the Seahawks, but when it follows home losses to both the Ravens and Bengals--games Pittsburgh appeared to have in the bag in the fourth quarter--mediocre is the only word you can use to describe such a team.
When you give the football away four times to zero and three of those turnovers lead to 19 points, what more can you say but average? Sure, you can say Pittsburgh may have won without the turnovers, but that would be foolish, when you consider just how integral takeaways have always been to winning in the National Football League.
Are we supposed to believe the Steelers are still among the elite in the NFL, as long as they don't shoot themselves in the foot? Unfortunately, they've been doing that for most of 2015, and nothing will convince me that they deserve to be anything but the mediocre football team their record says they are.
Super Bowl? Yeah, maybe in a world where fantasy dominates reality. But, keeping it realistic, the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers would probably embrace just making the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.