The first seed in the AFC has represented the conference in five of the past seven seasons. In both conferences this year, only the team in first has Wild Card weekend off.
It’s Nov. 1, and the Steelers are in a strong position to earn the first seed. Pittsburgh is yet to lose and probably won’t lose anytime soon.
Pittsburgh should sleep-walk through its next three opponents — Cowboys, Bengals, and Jags — to a 10-0 start. Week 12 is home against the Ravens, and Pittsburgh will be favored to beat Baltimore again.
The Washington Football Team, Bills, Bengals, Colts, and Browns round out the Steelers’ final five weeks. At worst, the Steelers are looking at 13-3.
Kansas City is 7-1 and has a much tougher schedule remaining. Week 11, the Chiefs face the Raiders, who beat them handily a few weeks ago. Then, they’re off to Tampa Bay. The Bucs will be favored at home. That leaves matchups with the Saints, the now hot Dolphins, and the Chargers, who gave the champs all they could handle in Week 2. At best, the Chiefs are looking at 13-3, though 12-4 and 11-5 are more plausible.
After a bad loss to the Bengals, the Titans likely need to run the table or hope for a package of upsets to surpass the Steelers in the standings. Pittsburgh holds the head-to-head tie-breaker, as well.
As for the Ravens, Lamar Jackson is struggling, and the next four weeks will be brutal: at Colts, at Patriots, Titans, at Steelers. If Bill Belichick is supposed to be the treat, then there really isn’t one.
The Steelers are obviously better than the rest of the AFC. Defensively, it’s not close. Few teams play championship-level defense. Even fewer have Super Bowl talent on both sides of the ball.
FanDuel still lists the Chiefs (+350) as Super Bowl favorites over the Steelers (+600). I would not take the Chiefs in an AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh.
Today, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ path to the Super Bowl is clear.