While the usual suspects are reigning supreme in the AFC, every team should look to the red hot Pittsburgh Steelers as a team to keep out of the picture for their own sake.
It’s become a custom to see teams like New England, Denver, Cincinnati crush the AFC, and set the standard for AFC teams. Teams like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Kansas City have always just stuck on the outside, always having good seasons, but the last few years have seen these teams falling short in pivotal moments.
This year, the standards may change.
While New England, Denver, and Cincinnati continue to take the AFC by storm, their rule over the conference may end this season with threatening potential wild card teams rising to the task.
While Kansas City has surely shocked the league by turning a 1-5 record to an 8-5 record with 7 straight wins, the Pittsburgh Steelers could easily be seen as the biggest threat to dethrone the mighty Patriots, or one of the other strong teams in the AFC.
With a defense that has been bruised and beaten all season long, many might scoff at the idea of Pittsburgh going the distance, but in reality, this team is scary when its working right.
First of all, the first step is making the playoffs. Pittsburgh basically has to win out, and hope that either Kansas City or New York drop a game. If they can’t pull it out in Denver this week, it’s definitely not over, but they’ll need a bit of help to make the postseason. Teams should truly work harder against Pittsburgh just to keep them out, because if they make it, they could do some damage.
Pittsburgh is powered by the best offense in the league. With a proven champion at the helm, Ben Roethlisberger, and an array of weapons that range from the best route runner in the league to one of the biggest deep threats, along with the emerging Markus Wheaton, and the ever so reliable Heath Miller.
Add in there a run game that has been surprisingly strong thanks to DeAngelo Williams basically pushing off the notion of time in favor of playing like an experienced rookie.
Roethlisberger has looked like a man on a mission the last few weeks, and despite countless injuries to the team, and especially him, he’s proven his indestructibility, and would truly be in the debate for MVP if he hadn’t missed so much time (I still love to think he still deserves it, but maybe that’s a bit of a reach).
With the Patriots seeing their Empire crumble due to injuries, and Denver becoming unpredictable, and not really able to call Brock Osweiler their future yet, the AFC is completely up in the air.
I’m not even going to talk about the Bengals, because you know, Dalton’s 0-4 postseason record speaks for itself, but besides that, Pittsburgh simply has Cincy’s number.
That leaves the other wild card team (which could seriously pose a threat) and a team from the AFC South, which is simply the foulest division this year has had to offer, besides maybe the NFC East…Redskins…Really!?!
Anyway, with so many teams completely unpredictable, it’s unfair to doubt that Pittsburgh cannot go the distance, and if they play their cards right, the almost unstoppable offense could guide their way to Levi Stadium in February.
People will surely have their doubts, and rightfully so, but Pittsburgh is truly a Super Bowl contending team whether they like it or not.