My what a difference a week makes. One week ago this post centered on how the Steelers could get into the playoffs. This week, the post will be focused on how the Steelers hold on to their spot in the post season. Pittsburgh has ridden their dominant defense to the sixth seed in the AFC. With the Buffalo Bills faltering a bit, the fifth seed is now in view. Let’s take a closer look at what’s ahead in the AFC race including the current standings:

1. New England Patriots (8-1)

2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2)

3. Houston Texans (6-3)

4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

5. Buffalo Bills (6-3)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)

7. Oakland Raiders (5-4)

8. Indianapolis Colts (5-4)

9. Tennessee Titans (5-5)

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)

AFC North:

We expected the Baltimore Ravens to handle the Bengals this week, but they did much more than that. The Ravens nearly put up a fifty points on their way to completely dominating Cincinnati. Baltimore is looking more and more like the class of the AFC North. The next three weeks will be crucial in determining how close this division race will be. The Steelers can apply some pressure by sweeping the next three games, all of which are within the division. Two games against Cleveland and one against the hopeless Bengals are very winnable for Pittsburgh. Meanwhile the Ravens have the Texans, Rams, and the 49ers upcoming on their schedule. If Pittsburgh is going to make up some ground, this will be the time. The goal is to get within one game, and set up a battle for the division in week 17 when these two teams meet to close out the season.

AFC Wild Card:

Pittsburgh may be the sixth seed right now, but the race for the final playoff spot is heating up in the AFC. Both the Raiders and the Titans are coming off impressive wins last week. Oakland can even start to think about an AFC West title, being only one game behind the Chiefs. The once high flying Colts have crashed back to earth. After suffering a crushing loss to the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis is on the outside looking in for a post season birth. The Buffalo Bills have lost two of their last three, and also seem to be trending down. This is a team who will struggle to hold on to any playoff position, let alone the fifth seed.

Remaining Schedules:

Here’s a look at the top ten AFC team’s remaining schedules, sorted by strength of schedule percentage:

1. Tennessee Titans – S.O.S (.611)

Jaguars, at Colts, at Raiders, Texans, Saints, at Texans

2. Ravens – S.O.S. – (.556)

Texans, at Rams, 49ers, at Bills, Jets, at Browns, Steelers

3. Houston Texans – S.O.S. (.554)

At Ravens, Colts. Patriots, Broncos, at Titans, at Buccaneers, Titans

4. Indianapolis Colts – S.O.S. (.531)

Jaguars, at Texans, Titans, at Buccaneers, at Saints, Panthers, at Jaguars

5. Buffalo Bills S.O.S. (.508)

At Dolphins, Broncos, at Cowboys, Ravens, at Steelers, at Patriots, Jets

6. Kansas City Chiefs – S.O.S. (.500)

at Chargers, Raiders, at Patriots, Broncos, at Bears, Chargers

7. New England Patriots – S.O.S. (.469)

At Eagles, Cowboys, at Texans, Chiefs, at Bengals, Bills, Dolphins

8. Jacksonville Jaguars – S.O.S (.446)

At Colts, at Titans, Buccaneers, Chargers, at Raiders, at Falcons, Colts

9. Pittsburgh Steelers – S.O.S. (.486)

At Browns, at Bengals, Browns, at Cardinals, Bills, at Jets, at Ravens

10. Oakland Raiders – S.O.S. (.467)

Bengals, at Jets, at Chiefs, Titans, Jaguars, at Chargers, at Broncos

At first glance, the Steelers having the second easiest remaining schedule looks like great news. The problem is there are only two games left at home in this stretch. Mason Rudolph hasn’t yet proven he can win big games on the road just yet. If the Steelers can be somewhat successful on the road, its not unthinkable to see them become a fifth seed or even division champs. The way this team is playing defensively, almost anything is possible.