The Steelers: Not dead yet

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Yogi Berra supposedly said, ''It ain’t over till it’s over.’’ There’s a lot of truth in that expression and particularly concerning the Steelers.

Their playoff hopes were dealt a blow when they lost to Baltimore Thursday night. But those hopes were not crushed. They are one game behind five teams in the loss column. That is not insurmountable.

While it’s easy to say the Steelers aren’t very good and no one should have any expectations for them, the same can be said of the other teams in contention. All have lost at least half of their games. If they are 6-6 or 5-6 thus far, it would hardly be unexpected for them to finish 8-8.

Here are the overall records, conference records and remaining schedules of the six leading candidates for the final wild-card berth in the AFC. This is based on the theory that either Kansas City or Denver, both 9-2, will take the first wild-card slot.

Baltimore (6-6, overall, 6-4 in conference): Minnesota, at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati.

The skinny: The Ravens easily could lose their final three games to finish 7-9. What could be critical to their chances will be the importance of the final game to the Bengals, who might have clinched the division title by that time.

Tennessee (5-6, 4-4): At Indianapolis, at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston.

The skinny: The Titans have lost five of their past seven and their next three games are against teams that are a combined 23-10. The have an easy finish but could well be 5-9 going into those last two games.

San Diego (5-6, 3-5): Cincinnati, Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City.

The skinny: The Chargers had lost three straight before their stunning upset at Kansas City. Having four remaining home games is a real plus. But playing Denver and Kansas City, regardless of the site, is a negative. Ditto Cincinnati.

New York Jets (5-6, 2-6)): Miami, Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami.

The skinny: It’s hard to take a team with Geno Smith at quarterback seriously. Add to that, the Jets have lost three of four -- including by 40 to Cincinnati and by 23 to Buffalo. The least likely candidate.

Miami (5-6, 4-3): at Jets, at Steelers, New England, at Buffalo, Jets.

The skinny: The bullying scandal seems to have strengthened rather than destroyed the Dolphins. After losing four straight, they've won two of their past four, including an overtime win over Cincinnati. They have a possible advantage with two games against the Jets, but must play at Heinz Field and against New England.

Steelers (5-7, 4-5): Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland.

The skinny: The Steelers' warts are known best but all teams have them. Only Cleveland looks to be easy. The Bengals will be steamrolling toward a division title when they play the Steelers. A key is the situation in Green Bay: Will Aaron Rodgers be healthy? Will the Packers still be in the playoff hunt?


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