Bengals or Steelers....?
At 7-7, the Steelers are actually quite fortunate to have such ability to control their playoff destiny. Most teams that face 7-7 records going into week 16 will need to win out and get a little help on the side, but in this year’s AFC, the Steelers just need that 9-7 clip to play past week 17.
With four losses in their past five games, the Steelers have done anything but glide towards the finish line. Yet at the same time, the Ravens have lost three straight and look like a rather vulnerable team this year as well despite clinching a playoff spot already, so the question as to the best team in the AFC North is definitely still up in the air.
Then there’s the Bengals, who only need a win this Sunday against the Steelers to advance to the playoffs.
Playing third or fourth fiddle in the AFC North for god knows how long, the Bengals have lost 9 straight games against the Ravens and Steelers, and making the playoffs this season will depend on whether they can finally put an end to that streak. If they can put down the Steelers, they may even have a chance to take the top spot in the AFC North as they go head to head with the Ravens in week 17.
There’s no doubt the Bengals are a team on the rise. The post-Carson Palmer era has seen a great turnaround on both sides of the ball with Dalton and Green forming a lethal battery and a defense that ranks top 10 in the NFL for both scoring defense and yards allowed per game.
It’s the AFC North’s old school versus the new school this weekend. If the Steelers win out, will they have enough to make another deep playoff run? If they lose this weekend, will they need to have a more active offseason? And are the Bengals ready to show that they can come away victorious in a must-win situation or will the veteran Steelers prove that the Bengals are still learning their way?