The Steelers (7-3) sit in second place in the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens (8-3). Whether or not the Steelers win the division is up for debate. What we do know is that the Steelers are capable of winning a Super Bowl on the road if need be.
As a matter of fact, the Steelers should be favored to win the AFC right now.
They have won five out of their last six games, and only face two teams with winning records the rest of the way.
Ben Roethlisberger and the offense are clicking at the right time, despite an offensive line that is banged up and plays inconsistently each week. The defense finally started to play inspired football in the Steelers 24-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals prior to their bye week.
This team is aging but has enough youth as well. The offense is especially potent with big Ben and numerous targets for him to throw to.
There is no question that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the best team in the AFC. Baltimore always plays well in the regular season, but the Steelers play their best when it matters the most.
Here are five players who will play a vital role in the Steelers journey to Super Bowl 46 on February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was born to be a Steeler.
He's big and strong, mobile, and can throw the ball a country mile. Much like former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Big Ben knows how to win football games. This is especially true in big games, which is why Ben has two Super Bowl rings.
If the Steelers make another Super Bowl run, it will be because Ben Roethlisberger led them there.
Having one of his best seasons yet, Big Ben has thrown for 2,877 yards and 16 touchdowns thus far. He isn't scared to take a hit or throw any ball. This is what makes Ben so different and special. Where a guy like Tom Brady will lay down and take a sack, Ben will extend the play at all costs.
Sure, this can lead to turnovers. It can also lead to the game winning pass in a Super Bowl, just as it did when Ben threaded the needle to Santonio Holmes to win Super Bowl 43.
Ben makes the players around him better. An offensive line this bad would get most quarterbacks killed, Ben just evades pressure and finds a receiver.
Make no mistake, Ben Roethlisberger will retire as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. ESPN won't ever acknowledge this fact, but the wins speak for themselves.
Big play Willie Gay single-handedly held off the Cincinnati Bengals the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers took the field.
He tipped a ball to linebacker Lawrence Timmons that led to a much needed interception, and then closed out the game by intercepting Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton as the Bengals marched down the field.
Gay is emerging as the Steelers best defensive back ahead of the often overrated Ike Taylor. Taylor almost always holds receivers and can't catch the football. When Ike intercepts a pass, it's by accident. He's given way too much credit, especially since officials are starting to penalize him more frequently.
Gay has improved a lot this season and will be a key part of this defense going forward. The defense was in desperate need of some turnovers and William Gay delivered.
Look for this to continue as the season progresses, especially since he is gaining confidence.
I'm getting tired of hearing Pittsburgh Steelers fans bashing Rashard Mendenhall.
The guy isn't putting up big numbers this season, but the offensive line hasn't done anything to help him. The man runs hard and has run especially hard the last two games.
He scored once against the Baltimore Ravens and twice against the Cincinnati Bengals. One of those TDs against the Bengals was pure effort, he powered himself into the end zone. He is running with a lot of heart and doesn't look discouraged when the offensive line caves in around him.
He's going to be a huge reason for the Steelers success going forward and will take pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger. I know the run game is a collective effort this season, but Mendenhall is the top dog.
Keep hating on him, I'll go ahead and continue watching him score touchdowns in the clutch.
Antonio Brown is emerging as Ben Roethlisberger's go-to guy in the clutch.
On third down and long, Ben has been looking for Antonio Brown. He is making Hines Ward type catches—the tough balls over the middle. He makes tough catches look easy and Ben has noticed this.
Mike Wallace is a superstar and a deep threat, but Antonio Brown may be even more valuable. These two guys will go down as one of the best receiving duo's in Pittsburgh Steelers history if the team stays together.
Brown has 44 catches for 626 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging 14.2 yards per catch on the season.
Both Brown and Wallace should surpass 1,000 yards receiving this season.
What can Brown do for the Steelers?
Make the big catch whenever needed.
I know linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are two different players, but they work as a team rushing the opposing quarterback.
These two guys are by far the most important part of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.
They have 14 sacks between them, despite both missing multiple games due to injuries. Harrison and Woodley putting pressure on the quarterback is key to the defenses success.
This takes pressure off of the secondary, which allows safety Troy Polamalu to roam around and make plays.
He hasn't been as successful this year, but if the sack brothers can get healthy together then look out. Rushed passes lead to bad passes which lead to Troy interceptions.
Woodley is supposed to play in a couple of weeks and Harrison is returning to form.
The only thing that can keep the Pittsburgh Steelers from returning to the Super Bowl is themselves.