If the Pittsburgh Steelers win their game against the Cleveland Browns this coming Sunday, they'll win the AFC North, and earn a bye in the playoffs. They will also host a playoff game in the second round of the playoffs.
None of that can go under-appreciated, considering everything that's happened on and off the field with this team this year.
The Steelers (11-4) have overcome a lot of adversity, and despite having some key players banged up, are still very much capable of winning their franchise's seventh Super Bowl this year. They have all the ingredients, including a winning quarterback who's as tough as nails and a defense that, despite the rules, will hit you until you don't want to get up anymore, and won't allow you to score points at ease.
Most of all, the Steelers have the talent and experience that few other teams have. With the bye, they could get Aaron Smith back and healthy to play, along with all-world safety Troy Polamalu. A healthy Steelers team could be deadly in the playoffs this year.
Yet there's one team standing between them and Super Bowl XLV, the New England Patriots. Every Steelers fan should know that an AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Steelers wouldn't have too many Steelers fans excited.
Twice in the last 10 years, the Patriots came into Heinz Field, the home of the Steelers, and beat them, earning a trip to the Super Bowl. Since 2004, the Steelers have beaten the Patriots twice, but both were in the regular season, and Tom Brady didn't play the last time the Steelers beat the Pats.
This year the Patriots came to town and crushed the Steelers, 39-26, and it wasn't even as close as the final score would indicate. For the Steelers and their fans, it was a horror movie they've seen way too many times before.
As long as Brady is the quarterback and Bill Belichick is the head coach of the Patriots, I don't think the Steelers can beat them when it counts.
The way the playoffs could be set up, it's almost destiny that the AFC Championship game would be between the Steelers and Patriots, this time in Foxboro. How many of you would feel confident that the Steelers could go up there and win that game? I know I wouldn't.
Every Steelers fan on Earth should pray to God that the Patriots get upset by the New York Jets or Baltimore Ravens in the second round. If the Patriots go down, the Steelers instantly become the favorite to win the AFC.
I would like the Steelers' chances against any of the five other opponents at home in the second round and in the AFC Championship. Despite losing to the Jets and Ravens, you have to remember the circumstances of those games. Polamalu, Smith and Heath Miller all did not play against the Jets. If they all play in the rematch, the Steelers should win.
In the loss at home against the Ravens, Roethlisberger did not play. Big Ben is 8-2 against the Ravens in his career, and the Steelers have won the last six meetings between the teams when he starts.
No way the Kansas City Chiefs or Indianapolis Colts come to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers in the playoffs. The playoffs are all about matchups, and the Steelers match up very well with every potential playoff team besides the Patriots.