The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being in arguably the toughest—and certainly the closest—division in football right now, with the AFC North being the only division in the league in which no team has a losing record.
In fact, all four teams in the division have at least a .600 winning percentage, and are at least two games above .500, with the 6-4 records shared by the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns currently representative the low point. The 6-3-1 Cincinnati Bengals currently hold sway with a .650 winning percentage, while the Steelers’ .636 off a 7-4 record lands them in second place, in position for a wildcard spot.
But there’s still plenty of intra-divisional feasting to be had over the course of the final six weeks of the season. In fact, the division-leading Bengals must still play three more games within the division, including one against the Browns and the other two against the Steelers.
The Browns have one other division game upcoming against the Ravens, who are just 2-3 within the division. That certainly means good things for the Steelers, as their chief rivals and obstacles to a playoff seed still have yet more damage to inflict upon one another.
For the Bengals, four of their last six games will come on the road, including games against the Browns, Steelers, and Houston Texans, who won their first game this past week with new starter Ryan Mallett under center. They also get the Steelers and the Denver Broncos at home.
The Browns, too, have only two home games remaining of six, with those coming as hosts to the Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts. They do get a break with two NFC South teams on the road, as well as a trip to Buffalo, but they finish the year in Baltimore.
The Ravens’ final six games will be split between home and away, including a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. The San Diego Chargers have gone 2-3 in their last two games, with both victories coming against the winless Oakland Raiders, but they can be a dangerous team.
The Ravens must still travel to New Orleans, Miami, and Houston before the season is over, and all three teams can be tough hosts. They finish the year hosting the Browns, whom they just squeaked by with two fourth quarter field goals, including the game winner as time expired.
It’s true that the Steelers have some tough games ahead of them as well, including the two games against the Bengals, as well as the Kansas City Chiefs. But in a division that has been dominant at home but average on the road, the Steelers have only two road trips ahead of them left, with three of their last five games at Heinz Field.
The AFC North collectively has posted a 16-5-1 record in their home stadiums, while going 9-10 on the road. Within the division, the home team has gone 5-3, translating to an 11-2-1 record at home outside of their own chief rivals.