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History shows the Steelers might be better off with a No. 2 seed

Entering the postseason as the No. 2 seed wouldn't be the end of the world for the Steelers. In fact, it might be the start of a memorable journey.

Super Bowl XLIII Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

If there's one thing the Steelers and their fans want as 2017 nears the final quarter of the regular season, it's a No. 1 seed, a bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs—playoffs they should easily qualify for, entering Week 13 with a 9-2 mark.

I guess that's three things, but I digress.

Obviously, the Steelers should and will do everything in their power to obtain the AFC's top seed, but even if they don't, history shows it won't necessarily be the end of the world.

Since the NFL added an extra wild-card team (and thus a third-round) to the postseason in 1978, the Steelers have been a No. 1 seed five times--1978, 1992, 1994, 2001 and 2004.

Despite Pittsburgh surviving the divisional round four times, only the legendary 1978 squad that finished 14-2 in the regular season was able to take advantage of home-cooking when it advanced to Super Bowl XIII, where it outlasted the Cowboys, 35-31, in a Super Bowl for the ages.

You no doubt are aware of what took place on those other four occasions.

In '92, under first-year head coach Bill Cowher, the upstart Steelers were upstaged at old Three Rivers Stadium in the divisional round by a loaded and veteran Bills team that was in the middle of a four-year run atop the AFC.

In '94, there was that infamous upset in the AFC title game at the hands of a Chargers team that didn't belong anywhere near Super Bowl XXIX.

Then, of course, there were those bookend defeats at Heinz Field to a dynastic Patriots team that was in the midst of winning three Super Bowls in four seasons.

In stark contrast to the Steelers’ bad luck as a No. 1 seed has been their extraordinary luck as a No. 2 seed.

The Steelers have also entered the postseason as the AFC's No. 2 seed five times in the three-round era—1979, 1995, 1997, 2008 and 2010.

The Steelers not only survived the divisional-round all five times, they managed to advance to the Super Bowl on four occasions, with only John Elway and his Broncos preventing a perfect record, when they left Three Rivers Stadium with the AFC crown following the '97 campaign.

If I had to pick the main reason for Pittsburgh having such great luck reaching the Super Bowl as a No. 2 seed, it would have to be the fact that the Steelers have hosted the AFC title game every single time.

If you know anything about the late-'70's/early-'80's Steelers’ defense, it's that it simply had no answer for a Chargers offense led by Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts.

In-fact, late in the '79 season, Pittsburgh traveled to San Diego for a battle of AFC heavyweights, but left town with its tail between its legs, after a 35-7 beatdown.

The Chargers entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed and, based on their matchup advantage over Pittsburgh, had to be the favorite to advance to Super Bowl XIV.

Facing an injury-riddled, wild-card Oilers team in the divisional-round, San Diego was upset at home, and Houston came to Three Rivers Stadium for the second year in a row to play for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

You know the rest of the story: Not only did the Steelers eventually dispatch Houston in the AFC title game, they outlasted a 9-7 Rams squad two weeks later for their fourth Lombardi in six years.

Sixteen years later, Pittsburgh entered the '95 postseason as the AFC's second seed, after rallying from a 3-4 start to finish at 11-5.

The Chiefs were the top seed and, playing at noisy Arrowhead Stadium, had the clear advantage in the AFC sweepstakes.

However, Kansas City inexplicably fell to a Cinderella Colts team in the divisional round, and for the second-straight season, a heavy underdog would arrive at Three Rivers Stadium with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

Even though the AFC Championship game mostly played out like the year before, the Steelers managed to gain the three yards they couldn't against San Diego and advanced to their first Super Bowl since the dynasty days.

Two years later, Kansas City was again the No. 1 seed, but fell to that aforementioned Broncos team which ultimately left Three Rivers as the conference champion.

Moving on to '08, a Titans squad—much like the Air Coryell Chargers of yesteryear—had had Pittsburgh's number in recent years.

This was clearly evident in the penultimate game of the regular season, when the Steelers traveled to Tennessee with the No. 1 seed on-the-line, only to leave town as 31-14 losers.

Much like the '79 postseason, however, the Steelers were done a solid by a division rival, when those postseason road warriors—the Ravens—traveled to Tennessee for the divisional round and knocked off the top-seeded Titans. This set up an AFC Championship game for the ages, a game that was played at Heinz Field between two AFC North gladiators.

Pittsburgh prevailed, 23-14, and advanced to Super Bowl XLIII, where it collected its record-setting sixth Lombardi.

Two years later, the Patriots entered the AFC postseason as the top seed, meaning—at least, theoretically—Pittsburgh had zero hope of advancing to Super Bowl XLV.

You couldn't blame folks for thinking that way, mere weeks after New England came to Heinz Field, and Rob Gronkowski spent the whole game toying with Willie Gay in a 39-26 loss on Sunday Night Football.

But just one day after Pittsburgh barely survived the Ravens in the divisional round, the Patriots were toppled at home by their own division rival—the Jets.

So, instead of the Steelers traveling to very menacing Gillette Stadium, they got to host the Rex Ryans at Heinz Field for the right to go to the Super Bowl, and outlasted a game New York team, 24-19, before falling to the Packers two weeks later.

So, what does this have to do with anything today?

Nothing, other than pointing out that—again—entering the playoffs as a No. 2 seed wouldn't be the end of the world for the Steelers.

In fact, it might be the beginning of something glorious.