NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers in Control of Their Own Playoff Destiny

Chris Gazze@ChrisG_PITCorrespondent IDecember 18, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates following his 79 yard touchdown pass to teammate Antonio Brown #84 against the Cleveland Browns during the game on December 8, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

It was a good, no, a great day for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though they didn't play, the Steelers clinched a playoff spot and catapulted back to the top seed in the AFC.

Early Sunday afternoon, Pittsburgh clinched a playoff spot when the Tennessee Titans lost to the previously winless Indianapolis Colts. The Houston Texans were then knocked off by the Carolina Panthers, giving Pittsburgh an edge in the AFC.

News got even better with the San Diego Chargers' dominating victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

The Steelers now control their playoff destiny in earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC and a first-round bye. As banged up as the Steelers are, that first-round bye would be a huge boost. Earning the top seed will not come easy, as the Steelers have a tough game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

Ben Roethlisberger is questionable for the game, but his ankle probably felt a lot better after the Ravens losing Sunday night. Though it is not a certainty, Roethlisberger has to suit up and be under center as even at less than 100 percent, he gives the Steelers the best chance at winning.

Pittsburgh is already without Maurkice Pouncey and James Harrison, as well as injuries to Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley, both of whom will start.

There is no doubt that an already positive morale in the Pittsburgh locker room got a boost with the weekend's results. The Steelers last two trips to the Super Bowl came with home-field advantage.

The players may be in pain now, but three more wins means an extra week of rest and home field throughout the playoffs.

The Steelers would like for nothing more than to stay at Heinz Field for the playoffs, and they must take advantage of the situation and control their destiny heading into the postseason.


Follow me on Twitter @ChrisG_FC