So the Steelers are only a half-game behind the Bengals in the AFC North. They’re so close that the Bengals can smell the Primanti’s on their breath.
The Steelers scored 40 or more points for the third time this season, a franchise record, in their 42-21 win Sunday at Cincinnati. It was their biggest margin of victory on the road since they beat the Browns 41-9 in the 2010 season finale, and the Steelers (8-5) will win the AFC North for the first time since 2010 if they win their last three games.
You know what that means.
It’s time for a letdown.
And you know what? That’s OK.
We know better than to let visions of playoff sugarplums dance in our heads. These aren’t the 2005 Steelers, who fell to 7-5 and won their final four games out of necessity to get into the playoffs. The 2014 Steelers might be more explosive on offense than the 2005 edition, but they’re woefully inferior on defense.
This maddeningly inconsistent bunch has lost to the Buccaneers and Jets, both 2-11. These Steelers aren’t equipped to plow their way into the playoffs with four straight wins. They inevitably will lose another game this season.
And we’re cool with that. After all, Steelers fans are nothing if not understanding, right?
As long as the Steelers don’t lose more than one, they still have a realistic chance to win the AFC North and have a home playoff game.