The Pittsburgh Steelers have the opportunity to lock up the AFC North this week, and they don’t even need help to do it. At 11-2 and with their nearest divisional opponent two games back without the possibility of winning a tiebreaker, all they have to do is go out and win their next game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Given the fact that they have not even reached the postseason over the past two years, it’s a pretty significant moment. They have already secured a playoff berth, but winning a division title means also hosting a playoff game, and if you earn at least the second seed, you are guaranteed to host at least two, assuming that you win the first.
The Bengals, meanwhile, are a battered and bruised team on an extended losing streak. They lost their starting quarterback weeks ago, and right now, it’s not even clear whether or not their preferred backup, Brandon Allen, will be ready to play, either.
So what does T.J. Watt feel about the prospects of locking up the division on Monday night? The only time he went to the postseason so far was in his rookie year, and he has played much better in the years in which they didn’t make up.
“I don’t know. I’m not even looking past today, to be honest with you”, he told reporters earlier today about what it means to him to have that chance of securing the AFC North on the table for their next game. “Just really happy with the practice we put on today, and excited to watch the film here in a few minutes with the guys and go over it”.
When you take care of your business, your goals take care of themselves. The best thing you can do to achieve a goal like winning a division title is winning as many games as you can. And the best way to win as many games as you can is to focus on those games and give maximum effort in preparation and execution. Not in thinking about how important it is to win those games.
Watt has the right mentality. It serves the guys nothing to know that they are on the cusp of this or that. Those intangibles don’t help them win games. Playing well wins games, and you play well when you prepare well and are well-conditioned and well-practiced and rehearsed.