The Pittsburgh Steelers can set the cruise control. They have played the toughest of their remaining games this past Sunday against divisional rival Baltimore.
The remaining games are the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and the Cleveland Browns. The only game on the road is at Cleveland. The only one of these teams that has a winning record is the Jets. The way the Jets played against the Patriots on Monday Night Football, I do not think anyone would realize that they were playing for the division lead or even had a winning record.
The Steelers had Big Ben back for the first matchup against the Bengals. They got up on the Bengals but almost blew it in the fourth quarter by letting the Bengals try and rally as they have all year long against every opponent. The Bengals have been a little too late every week. The way the Steelers are playing solid defense and making plays to win on the offensive side of the ball, the Bengals should be another easy win and sweep this season.
The biggest challenge remaining is the Jets. They are tough when they are in rhythm. They lost in Week 1 after being off through the offseason. They lost after their bye week. Their loss against the Patriots was after a 10-day layoff following a Thanksgiving night game. They are consistent with a regular six- or seven-day week and haven't lost when playing within a regular week's schedule. This will be a challenge for the Steelers but Troy Polamalu will lead the defense against Mark Sanchez and create turnovers that will lead to a win.
Week 16 brings in the Carolina Panthers and the final home game of the season. The Panthers have won one game all season but are relying on players that were not even on their depth chart at the beginning of the season. The Steelers will take care of business.
The Steelers have the Browns in Week 17. Peyton Hillis has created chaos for opposing defenses all year. Containing Hillis will be the key for the Steelers because he is the key to their whole offense. Contain him and they are almost guaranteed a victory.
The playoffs still hold so many possibilities. The Steelers, as of now, would have a first-round bye. This would benefit them because of all the injuries and uncertainty of the offensive line. The Steelers are the truest threat to the New England Patriots in the playoffs and have the best chance to take them out.
Do you think that the Steelers can win out this season? 13-3?