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NFL Playoff Bracket 2012: Steelers Benefit from Texans' Win in AFC Playoff Race

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Michael MillSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 8, 2012

The climb on the stairway to seven may have just gotten a little bit easier for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They didn't even have to play a game for anything to get better.

In the first AFC Wild Card matchup Saturday afternoon, the Houston Texans dominated the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-10.

How do the Steelers benefit from this?

If the Bengals won the game, Cincinnati would have played the New England Patriots next week.

However, the Texans will be matched up against the Baltimore Ravens.

If the Steelers can take down the Broncos tomorrow, they will be facing the Patriots next weekend instead of the Ravens, who they lost to twice this season.

Pittsburgh should be able to handle Denver tomorrow afternoon. Teams have figured out the formula to stop Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

The Steelers aren't ranked as the No. 1 offense in the league for nothing. They should have no problem shutting down the inept Denver offensive attack.

In the Divisional round, the Steelers are better off taking on New England, who they defeated 25-17 in late October.

As a whole, the defense has been outstanding. Where they really excel is in stopping the pass.

The Steelers are ranked first in the NFL in scoring defense, first in pass defense and eighth in rushing defense.

If there is any team that matches up perfectly with the New England Patriots, it's the Steelers.

It may all be for nothing. Even if the Steelers win, there is still a chance they will have to face the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.

However, there is always a possibility that the Texans pull off the upset next weekend.

If that's the case, the path to the Super Bowl would be perfectly paved for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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