Still four weeks to go, but the Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be on a collision course for a wildcard game in Denver or Oakland in a 4-5 matchup.
What a scene it would be in Denver, if that matchup ends up coming to fruition. However, I would still want to see Denver over Oakland.
Heading into Week 14, the top-6 in the AFC breakdown like this:
1. New England (9-3)
2. Baltimore (9-3)
3. Houston (9-3)
4. Denver (7-5)
5. Pittsburgh (9-3)
6. Cincinnati (7-5)
To win the division, Pittsburgh is likely going to need to win out and have Baltimore stumble in a game. It’s hard to envision Baltimore losing twice the rest of the way, even though they play down to the opposition and have road games against the Bengals and Chargers.
Steelers will need to be perfect the rest of the way.
The toughest game remaining for the Steelers is a week 15 Monday night matchup in San Francisco. Even when the schedule came out last spring and many thought the 49ers would not be a playoff contender, this was a game you could easily pencil in as a lose, due to the cross country trip.
Any team won’t want to see the Steelers in the playoffs but that lose at home to Baltimore was crushing when it comes to home field, at least it was in how things stand right now.
— An interesting dynamic in the past couple weeks is the Steelers taking Ryan Clark off the field in defending the pass when they go into 5+ DB formation.
We saw some of it yesterday with Cortez Allen replacing Clark for the most part and it’s been a longtime coming. Clark has always struggled against the pass, most notably against teams who can stretch the field in the vertical passing game. He can no longer run and is not quick enough with his read and reaction time. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Clark keeps seeing less time against the pass.
— Antonio Brown showed once again yesterday why he’s reminding team scouts of Santonio Holmes (on the field). He’s becoming a dynamic game changer and might be the Steelers best overall receiver.
— Bryant McFadden, the Steelers second oldest cornerback and second highest paid CB, deserves a lot of credit for finding a way to make an impact on special teams. Not easy for a player who wasn’t given an opportunity to not only win his job back but get back into the top-5 rotation.
Some Tidbits out of Tomlin’s press conference
— Tomlin praised the Steelers ability to get splash plays yesterday and that’s something that has to continue if the Steelers are going to make a serious run in the playoffs, especiallyÂ if they have to start on theÂ road.
Another area that stood out for Tomlin was the team’s ability in the redzone, most notably how hard they ran. “I liked the way our running backs ran down there, ” Tomlin said.
— A key matchup to watch for Sunday will be Jabaal Sheard vs Marcus Gilbert. Tomlin pegged Sheard as a player that the Steelers have to contain.
— TomlinÂ mentioned Larry Foote as having a legitimate chance to play on Thursday. His hamstring injury is not serious.Â Ramon Foster’s (left ankle) status is a wait and see situation, while Arnaz Battle and Chris Carter are expected to remain out. Jonathan Dwyer is seeing the doctor today due to a foot injury…..
— If Foster is out, the Steelers are likely to start Trai Essex at right guard as the team has been thrilled with Doug Legursky’s play at left guard.
— Playing LaMarr Woodley Thursday night makes little sense but Tomlin said Woodley “is still in play”.
“I don’t know if you want to characterize it as a setback, ” Tomlin said on Woodley’s limited playing time. Whether it was a setback, Tomlin said would be revealed this week in practice.
— The Steelers have not missed a beat with Jeremy Kapinos taking over for the oft injured Daniel Sepulveda. Tomlin said that Kapinos is doing a “heck of a job” punting.