With nine teams still in the mix for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC, the race is wide open. Down the stretch it'll likely be coaching, strong quarterback play and experience that propels one of these teams into the playoffs.
After a horrendous start, the 4-6 Pittsburgh Steelers have all the necessary ingredients to rise up and be that team.
With Sunday's dramatic come-from-behind win over the Detroit Lions, the Steelers have thrust themselves back into the playoff picture. Ben Roethlisberger has the offense rolling after throwing for nine touchdowns and 971 yards in the past three games, and the defense proved yesterday that it could rise to the occasion in holding the potent Lions offense scoreless in the second half.
The Steelers' running game has uncharacteristically struggled this year, ranking just 30th in the NFL in total yards per NFL.com. However, expect Big Ben's resurgence in the passing game to lead to more running lanes for Le'Veon Bell and Jonathan Dwyer.
While Rex Ryan has done a very respectable job with a Jets team that lacks overall talent and has suffered from inconsistent quarterback play, they're far too inconsistent to hold onto their Wild Card spot.
The Ravens seem to have lost their identity and are struggling mightily without the leadership of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on defense. Their lack of leadership has been painfully evident in their inability to win close games. Four of their six losses have come by three points or less.
After all their struggles this year, the Steelers have the most promising opportunity to grab the last playoff spot.
Due to a variety of tiebreakers laid out here by ESPN.com, only the Jets, Dolphins, Raiders and Titans currently sit ahead of the Steelers in the standings. Are you willing to argue that the Steelers, led by one of the most clutch quarterbacks of all time and a Super Bowl-winning coach, can't overcome these four teams?
It won't be easy, but if history has taught us anything, it's that counting out the Roethlisberger/Tomlin tandem isn't wise.
In a large pack of pretenders, expect them to emerge as a playoff team once again.