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Pittsburgh Steelers or New York Giants: Who's in the Playoffs

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Pittsburgh Steelers or New York Giants: Who's in the Playoffs
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With an 0-4 record, it will be a challenge for Roethlisberger and Manning to get their teams into the playoffs.

Winless as they may be, the fans of the 0-4 Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants shouldn't consider their seasons lost just yet.

Even with Chase Stuart of The New York Times identifying the 1992 San Diego Chargers as the only 0-4 team to make the playoffs, the potential for these two teams to make the postseason is certainly real. What makes them so special, you ask?

Well, for starters, their divisions. The NFC East and AFC North are two of the worst divisions in football at the moment.

With the Cleveland Browns being the only team currently above .500 in either division—like that'll last—the Giants and Steelers aren't staring at daunting deficits in their respective divisions.

Furthermore, with five of both teams' remaining 12 games against these struggling divisional foes, their schedules could aid them in their pursuit of the postseason.

Question is, who has the easier schedule outside the division?

That distinction would have to go to the Steelers. While the record of their remaining non-division opponents is 16-12—compared to the Giants' opponents' 15-12 record—I can identify more "cupcakes" on Pittsburgh's schedule.

With games against the Raiders, Jets and Billspossibly without EJ Manuel—the Steelers have three gimmes on their schedule compared to only two, the Raiders and Vikings, for New York.

I know I'm splitting hairs here, but hey, every win counts.

Nonetheless, for these teams to capitalize on these favorable schedules, they'll have to shore up the areas that have caused their 0-4 starts.

For Pittsburgh, its start can be attributed to poor pass-protection and an absent running game.

While I don't envision the Steelers improving significantly in protecting Ben Roethlisberger—mostly because their star center Maurkice Pouncey is out for the season—Roethlisberger has always fell victim to sacks, and they've still won two Super Bowls.

The essential thing that Pittsburgh has to turn around is its abysmal running game.

Only averaging 58 yards rushing per game, Pittsburgh has got to get back to playing Steeler football.

With rookie Le'Veon Bell—a capable running back—now healthy, this may be something Pittsburgh can get back to.

For the Giants, it won't be as easy to right the ship.

At this point, one word sums up what New York has done well this season: nothing. Whether it be their running game, passing game or defense, the Giants have been anemic.

Owners of the third-worst scoring offense and the worst scoring defense in the NFL, New York will need significantly more improvement than Pittsburgh if it's to make the playoffs.

Whereas the Giants have the talent and health to improve on defense—according to ESPN.com, they just added Jon Beason to address their weakness at linebacker—the offense might not have the means to improve.

With starting left tackle William Beatty unable to block anybody and starters David Bass and Chris Snee out with injurySnee is out for the season—Eli Manning will continue to be a human piñata.

Add in the fact that even when David Wilson holds on to the ball he can't find running lanes, I don't see the Giants' offense improving enough to make a playoff push.

Lastly, there is the issue of the conferences that Pittsburgh and New York play in. Regardless of their current records, the presence of the Falcons, Packers and 49ers in the NFC will make the Giants' road to the playoffs much more difficult.

Add in the division leaders like the Saints, Lions and Seahawks, and it's hard to imagine who New York could surpass for a playoff berth if they fail to win the NFC East.

The Steelers are much more fortunate on this front. Aside from Denver and maybe the Patriots—and if you believe in them, the Chiefs—the AFC isn't sporting too many teams that are locks for the postseason

This provides Pittsburgh another avenue to make the playoffs in the event they fail to win the AFC North.

And most importantly, it gives the Steelers the best shot at making the playoffs.

Prediction: While the Steelers have a better shot at the playoffs than the Giants, they too will be at home in January. I like them to finish with a .500 record, but I like the Bengals to win the AFC North and the Texans and Chiefs to edge them out for the two wild card berths.

For the Giants, I like them to finish with a 6-10 record. With their final four games against the Chargers, Redskins, Seahawks and Lions, I don't see New York in the playoff picture down the stretch.

 

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