The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the playoffs and will play the Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon in Denver in one of the two AFC wild card games with the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Houston Texans Saturday in Houston in the other first round AFC wild card game. The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens both received the first round byes and are the 1st and 2nd seeds respectfully.
The Steelers are the 5th seed and the Bengals are the 6th. The Texans are the 3rd and the Broncos are 4th. Should the Steelers beat the Broncos on Sunday in Denver, they will travel to Foxboro to take on the Patriots in the divisional round if the Texans beat the Bengals on Saturday. Should the Bengals beat the Texans instead, the Steelers would travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.
A trip to Baltimore of course would be the third time the two teams would face each other this season as the Ravens swept the two games from the Steelers this year. In week one the Ravens blew out the Steelers 35-7 in a game that featured the Steelers turning the ball over 7 times in the game. The second meeting back in week 9 featured the Ravens driving 92 yards on the games final drive to score with eight seconds to go to win the game.
Should the Steelers get New England at some point, either in the divisional round or AFC Championship game, it will be the second time they face each other this season. The Steelers beat the Patriots at Heinz Field back in week 8, 25-17 and it was just one of three losses suffered by the Patriots this season.
All of this assumes the Steelers beat the Broncos on Sunday of course and they likely will have to do so without the services of running back Rashard Mendenhall and free safety Ryan Clark. Mendenhall likely suffered a torn ACL in his right knee against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday and Clark likely will be sat down as not to risk his health and rare blood disorder in the high altitude of Denver.
The Steelers also got several other players banged up in the game as Ramon Foster, David Johnson, Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen were all injured on Sunday. Allen might be the most serious of the three and the earlier word is a separated shoulder, but that has yet to be confirmed. Lewis left with a leg injury of sorts and was replaced by Bryant McFadden in the sub-packages.
The Steelers will likely be forced to sign a cornerback to the practice squad early in the week with both Allen and Lewis likely to miss practice time this week.
The path to the Steelers Super Bowl will almost certainly be all on the road and will likely include games against two of the most hated teams by Steelers fans on the journey. On we go to Denver, first where the Steelers opened up as 7.5 favorites on the road.