Everyone who is a fan of the black-and-gold wants to see the Pittsburgh Steelers win their 7th Lombardi trophy. There is no doubt about that, but what most fans realize as well is the process to winning said Super Bowl is to have the Steelers claim that top seed in the AFC, and force the road to Super Bowl 52 to come straight through Heinz Field.
Although early, throughout the first quarter of the NFL regular season, there is hope for the Steelers as their main goal and mission remains in tact.
Before diving into the details, let’s first update the current AFC Standings with Week 4 officially in the rear view mirror.
Current AFC Standings:
Kansas City Chiefs - 4-0
Buffalo Bills - 3-1
Pittsburgh Steelers - 3-1
Denver Broncos - 3-1
Jacksonville Jaguars - 2-2
Oakland Raiders - 2-2
New York Jets - 2-2
New England Patriots - 2-2
Houston Texans - 2-2
Baltimore Ravens - 2-2
Tennessee Titans - 2-2
With a 3-1 record, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, should still feel good about the notion of the team being able to have a chance at home field advantage when the dust settles. Why exactly? If you look at the games remaining on the schedule, and some other key variables, Pittsburgh should control their own destiny down the stretch.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they will, we all know how the team has the tendency to fold on occasion, but better to have the chance to claim the No. 1 seed, rather than having to rely on help.
The biggest factor when looking at the current standings would be the remaining games the Steelers play on their schedule. In other words, they play many of the top teams in the conference throughout the regular season, and those head-to-head games could be extremely helpful for potential tie breakers when the playoffs roll around.
In their remaining games, the Steelers play the Jaguars in Week 5 at Heinz Field, the Chiefs in Week 6 in Kansas City, the Titans in Week 11 at Heinz Field, the Patriots in Week 15 at home and the Texans in Houston in Week 16.
The standings can change, but those are games which could propel the Steelers above the rest in regards to home-field advantage.
One aspect of the Steelers’ schedule most might overlook is how many games they play on the road in the first half of the season. Already, after four games, the team has played three on the road and just one at home. The next quarter has them playing two on the road, and two at home. Do the math, that would be three home games compared to five away games in the first half of the season. Conversely, they will have a very home-dominated schedule in the back half, and Steelers fans know how good the team is at home, compared to other venues.
What the Steelers are doing now, and something which should be the team’s focus moving forward, is continue to control their own destiny throughout this process. They have struggled with this in the past, but if the ultimate goal is to claim the top seed in the AFC, this is the outlook the team needs to have.
The Steelers are 3-1 currently, and have a tough stretch of games coming up, both before and after their bye week. However, if the Steelers are a changed team, and can take advantage of a slightly weakened AFC, they will control their own destiny down the stretch, and not have to scoreboard watch.
The time is now for them to put the pedal down and to prove the road to the Super Bowl will go through the Steel City.