The Pittsburgh Steelers are 9-5, and they currently sit on top of the NFC North. The Baltimore Ravens, the 2nd-placed team in the division, are 8-6 and could still overtake Pittsburgh for top spot. However, that may prove difficult for a couple reasons having to do with scheduling.

Christmas NFL schedule includes Pittsburgh

Firstly, Pittsburgh and Baltimore will face one another directly on Christmas Day. That does give Baltimore a degree of control over its own destiny. However, the scheduling favors Pittsburgh as the game will be one that they host.

Importantly, the Ravens did defeat Pittsburgh earlier this season and that means if Baltimore beats the Steelers on December 25th, the Ravens would be 2-0 against the Steelers.

That in turn means that the Ravens would win any kind of tiebreaker between the two teams. However, that Pittsburgh hosts the game against Baltimore is a serious edge in the match-up. Baltimore are just 2-4 on the road while Pittsburgh are 4-2 at home, splits that imply a Pittsburgh win and a clinching of the division on Christmas.

The Cleveland Browns are 0-14

Another scheduling factor that helps Pittsburgh out is that they host the lowly Cleveland Browns in the final game of the season. The Browns have no wins on the year and they are an unlikely threat to the Steelers, one of the NFL's stronger teams. Even if Baltimore defeat Pittsburgh in Week 16, the Steelers are more likely to win in week 17.

That bodes well for Pittsburgh's chances as the Ravens compete on the road in Week 17 at Cincinnati.

The outlook for Pittsburgh is good for a division title and an 11-5 record at season's end. That's not likely to get them into the top two in the AFC, however they should be hosting on Wild Card weekend.

Furthermore, they may avoid New England in the conference semifinals before going on to face what might be the Oakland Raiders.

Looking at Pittsburgh in the Wild Card requires first envisioning them losing the division. If Baltimore beat Pittsburgh and Cincinnati then the Ravens would win the AFC North.

Pittsburgh, with a loss to Baltimore and a win over Cleveland, would then finish 10-6. That might be competitive enough for the 2nd Wild Card this season, but it may come down to tiebreakers. The most relevant teams from that point of view are Miami, Houston or Tennessee (not both), and maybe Kansas City.

Pittsburgh beat KC in Week 4 and Pittsburgh lost to Miami in Week 6. That means the Steelers win any tiebreaker against KC but lose to Miami. At present Pittsburgh also have a stronger in-conference record than either Houston or Tennessee, meaning the Steelers stand to win a tiebreaker against either of those two teams. However, if the Steelers end up 10-6 and tied with Miami at 10-6, the Steelers are on the outside looking in.

To stay in control of their destiny, Pittsburgh need a win on Christmas against Baltimore to clinch the division title. The prognosis certainly looks favorable, however there is still work to be done.

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