The AFC Playoff Picture as the season nears the mid-way point:
1. Denver Broncos (5-1)
2. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
3. New England Patriots (5-2)
4. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
5. San Diego Chargers (5-2)
6. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1)
7. Buffalo Bills (4-3)
8. Houston Texans (3-3)
9. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
10. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
11. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)
12. Cleveland Browns (3-3)
The Broncos are the class of the AFC followed by the next tier of four teams, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, New England.
What do the Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Ravens and Patriots all have in common?
They put up a ton of points.
Indianapolis has put up 216 points, Baltimore 193 points, Denver 189 points, New England 187 points, San Diego 184 points.
Among the fringe playoff teams in the AFC, currently slotted 6-12, only the Miami Dolphins, 147 points, and Kansas City Chiefs, 142 points, have scored more than 140 points through at least six games.
The Steelers have scored a woeful 124 points, a team with Ben Roethlisberger as their quarterback and elite playmakers in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell at key positions. That is unacceptable.
With the Colts and Ravens on the schedule next, a loss tonight against the Texans could spiral things out of control for the Steelers.
The Steelers tonight face a Texans defense that has the best defensive player in the game in J.J. Watt but overall this is a poor defense. Houston ranks 27th in the league in offensive yards allowed, 397, and the Texans have surrendered 694 total passing yards and five touchdowns in back-to-back losses.
The Steelers have the superior quarterback edge on paper tonight but that hasn’t meant much the past couple years. Since 2013, quarterbacks the Steelers have lost to include Brian Hoyer, Mike Glennon, Terrell Pryor, Jake Locker, Matt Cassel and Ryan Tannehill.
Despite having a limited quarterback in Fitzpatrick, Houston’s offense has the potential to exploit the Steelers with Arian Foster who has gone over 100 yards in back to back games and four times this season, and the big play ability from receivers Andre Johnson and Deandre Hopkins pose matchup problems to the Steelers.
At the end of the day, this is a night where the Steelers offense has to go out and be a statement game with a 30+ point night.