And then there were 12. The regular season has ended, and wild card weekend is upon as the final dozen teams seek a chance at the Super Bowl and NFL glory. The familiar teams are all there, as Green Bay, Seattle, New England, and Denver are tending to their byes atop the conferences.
What of this weekend, though? Years past has seen wild card teams get hot and make deep playoff pushes. The future Super Bowl champion could very well take the field on Saturday or Sunday. So why not the Steelers? A rocky start to the year saw them lose to the Cleveland Browns and inexplicably to the two-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers, dropping three of their first six. Since then, however, the Steelers have rebounded.
After besting the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night to close out the year, the Steelers have been crowned champions of one of the toughest division in the league, as both AFC wild card teams came from the North. It seems that the chaos of the division, with focus on the once optimistic Browns and the continued analysis and confusion concerning Andy Dalton, has made the Steelers an afterthought. They aren’t a particularly sexy team after all, but they weren’t when they won the Super Bowl in the recent past either.
So the Steelers will host hated rival Baltimore this weekend with a chance to visit Denver and Peyton Manning the following week. Any AFC champion will have to go through New England as well (this makes the Steelers a 14-1 bet to win it all).
Pittsburgh has as good a shot as any to take out the powerhouses of the AFC and return to the Super Bowl. These playoffs boast teams with championships already to their credit, as Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin won together in 2008, with Big Ben winning another with Bill Cowher in 2005. With that, we take a look at the ten reasons why the Pittsburgh Steelers can go four in a row to win the Super Bowl.
10 10. They’re on a Roll
9 9. They Win on the Road
8 8. Playoff Experience
7 7. The Steelers are Youthful
6 6. They Play to Win
5 5. The Secondary is Peaking
4 4. Le’Veon Bell
3 3. Antonio Brown
2 2. Big Ben
1 1. Versatility
Most importantly, Pittsburgh can win a lot of ways and change their gameplan according to their opponent. They beat Kansas City with defense 20-12 in Week 16. They ran it to beat the Titans, gaining 206 rushing yards while handing the ball off to Bell 33 times (before kneeling twice, they ran the ball six straight plays to close out the game, and the Titans knew it was coming). Hosting the Ravens, they gained just 55 yards on the ground, but Roethlisberger threw six TDs to win. That came a week after he threw 49 times for 522 yards and six touchdowns to beat the Colts (he also threw 58 times in a loss to New Orleans). All of that is to say that the Steelers can grind out the ball on the ground, trade off big play touchdowns, play with a lead or play from behind. They can win a lot of ways, and that makes them dangerous and always in contention.
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