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Steelers in position to sweep the AFC South

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Considering that Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore all lost a game to the AFC South, a Steelers' sweep would be helpful in playoff scenarios, should the Steelers reach that point.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons topped the Carolina Panthers 19-17 in a thrilling AFC South battle on Sunday in Week 11. The win put the Falcons in line for a share of the division title...with a 2-4 record.

The AFC North had the NFC South on its schedule this year and, most would agree, knowing before the season started that the leader of the NFC South after 11 weeks would be 4-6, a sweep of the NFL's worst division would be a requirement, not a bonus.

But it won't happen for the Steelers. A shocking loss to Tampa Bay in Week 4 ended any hope of that, even with a win over the Panthers in Week 3. They still have the Falcons and Saints on their schedule - the (cough) heavy hitters of the division.

They can, however, sweep the more-competitive AFC South, their other divisional opponent this season.

With wins over the Texans and Colts, and a road win over the Jaguars already on their resume, the Steelers take to the road to battle the Tennessee Titans in their final game this year against the AFC South. Having already topped the best teams in this division, both in impressive fashion, the Steelers must finish it off against a team mired in struggle.

The Steelers' offensive line had perhaps its best day ever in pass protection in Week 8 vs. the Colts.

That has been the Steelers' Achilles heel this season and probably for the last few seasons. The difference between 11-5 and 8-8 is avoiding road losses to below-average teams. The Steelers have been .500 for a variety of reasons, bad road losses being one of them.

This is a chance for the Steelers to earn a sweep of an entire division. That helps in various divisional tie-breaker scenarios in which every team plays the AFC South (head-to-head record, followed by division wins, then common opponents serves as the hierarchy for tie-breakers). The Browns lost to the Jaguars, and the Bengals and Ravens lost to the Colts. The Bengals also tied with the Panthers. A Steelers' win over the Titans would give them a tactical advantage in that regard, as they would also improve to 7-4 on the season - just a half game behind the leader Cincinnati.

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