After totaling over 500 yards for the third time in the past four games and after scoring 30-plus points for the fourth week in a row in a 45-10 lashing of the Colts at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football, there's no question the Steelers have one of the best offenses in the National Football League.
After forcing three turnovers and limiting Indianapolis to 240 yards of offense--including just 129 after the 8:26 mark of the second quarter, when the Colts took a 10-6 lead on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselback to Frank Gore--there's certainly no question Pittsburgh's defense has some young players to be excited about. For that matter, there's the grizzled vet, James Harrison, who recorded three sacks and forced a fumble on a strip sack that turned back the clock to 2008, and made you reminisce about that dominant 33-10 performance over Matt Cassel and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
There's no question the 2015 Steelers are capable of great feats of strength and are every-bit as good as the handful of AFC teams they are battling for those two wild card spots. Heck, the Steelers very well may be head-and-shoulders above those other wild card contenders and, all things being equal (meaning, no suspensions or injuries), deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Patriots, Panthers, Bengals, Broncos and probably the Seahawks.
That's all a matter of debate.
What isn't a matter of debate is the math. After Sunday night's victory, along with the Texans loss to the Bills, Pittsburgh improved one spot to seventh place in the AFC, still one notch below the coveted sixth seed. The Chiefs and Jets also won on Sunday, and since both currently own tiebreakers over Pittsburgh, the black and gold is still on the outside looking in.
However, according to the NFL's tiebreaker procedure for the wild card race, if the Steelers finish at 11-5, there is nothing preventing them from making the playoffs. Why? Since this isn't a "how the Steelers will make the playoffs" article, I'll just give you the abbreviated version: Pittsburgh would have the advantage over the Jets, based on records against common opponents, which is the third tiebreaker, after head-to-head and conference marks (the Steelers would be 3-1, while the Jets would be 3-2).
Anyway, tiebreakers aren't ultra-important right now, as there's still a month left in the regular season and many scenarios that could still play out.
What is important for the Steelers is that they continue to take care of their own business. What are the Chiefs chances of finishing the year on a 10-game winning-streak? What are the Jets chances of defeating both the Patriots and Bills?
That remains to be seen, but none of those teams have anything to do with the Bengals, who Pittsburgh will be traveling to face this Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
In Week 14 of last year, the Steelers entered Paul Brown Stadium at 7-5 and a game and a half out in the AFC North. They left just a half a game behind, after a 42-21 performance, a victory that paved the way for a run towards their first division title in four seasons.
A victory this Sunday surely won't lead to a division title, but if it's impressive enough (or even if it's sloppy), it could go a long way in showing themselves and everyone else they truly are a team to be reckoned with.