2016 South Side Questions: Will Steelers Lead AFC North By Sunday Night?

The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: Come Sunday night, will the Steelers be in sole possession of first place in the AFC North?

The Pittsburgh Steelers, standing at 6-5, will be playing the 8-3 Giants tomorrow evening. By the time they kick off, they should already know the outcome of the Ravens’ game—who also have a 6-5 record—against the Dolphins, who are riding a six-game win streak.

The Ravens have won three of their past four games after getting over a four-game losing streak in the first half of the season, including a most recent victory over the Bengals, losing by 10 points to the Cowboys the week before.

But one of those three victories also came over the Steelers, meaning that they already have a game in hand in the head-to-head battle. Because of that, even though they enter the week with the same record, Baltimore, by virtue of that victory—as well as their superior division record—own the current division tiebreakers.

Those circumstances will not change until the Steelers and Ravens play each other again three weeks from tomorrow, so in order for Pittsburgh to take control of the division, they will have to come out with a better record. And in order for that to happen this week, that means beating the Giants and having the Dolphins beat the Ravens.

Both outcomes are well within the realm of possibility, though the opposite results are perhaps as likely to happen. That makes it difficult to predict who will prevail by the end of the day.

Should the Ravens beat the Dolphins, that would only add to the pressure for the Steelers to beat the Giants in the evening, a fact that they should be aware of, as mentioned, by the time that they have to kick off.

Both the Steelers and the Ravens have the opportunity to host their upcoming opponents for Sunday’s game, which is a slight help, though Pittsburgh has already won three games on the road this season, including their two most recent. A victory tomorrow would give them a 4-2 home record—and possibly control of the AFC North.

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