Even at 7-6-1, far from a sterling, pristine record, the Pittsburgh Steelers essentially control their own destiny. In a jumbled up AFC with no dominant team, only the Kansas City Chiefs have double-digit wins. If the Steelers can manage to win their last three games, they’ll not only be in the playoffs, but they’re likely to win the AFC North. A thought that was almost unthinkable just a few weeks ago. That’s the approach Cam Heyward is taking over the final stretch of games.
“I think it’s just the ball’s in our court,” he told reporters in audio provided by the team. “It’s what we do that matters. I’ve never seen a team that was crowned champion that they’re only looked at as that they won pretty or they won ugly. I think to win, you just gotta find ways to do it. It doesn’t have to be pretty but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done and I will never look over that or gloss over that. Looking forward to getting to it.”
Pittsburgh has become the king of winning ugly. That was abundantly true in Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers had just 168 yards of total offense and found the end zone just once, all while allowing 201 yards rushing. They won that game off the back off four turnovers, timely forced fumbles and interceptions by the likes of Cam Sutton, Arthur Maulet, and Taco Charlton and Joe Schobert.
But winning is winning. And that’s all that really counts, especially come December and January. Pittsburgh will have to find a way to win, ugly or otherwise, this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are massive favorites, and though it’s unclear if they’ll have some of their star players like TE Travis Kelce and WR Tyreek Hill, it’s a team that has gotten itself back on track after a slow start. Patrick Mahomes has found his magic, the offense isn’t turning the ball while the defense isn’t giving up the mountain of points it was before.
Even if the Steelers lose this weekend, they’ll have the chance to bounce back the final two weeks against divisional opponents in the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. As the schedule came out, it felt like those final two weeks would define the team’s season. Whoever comes out the strongest over the final two weeks will likely wear the AFC North crown.