After losing six of their first eight ballgames, including one in London, if you said right now the Pittsburgh Steelers had an outside shot at making the playoffs, I might laugh right into the St. Johns River.
And no, I am not kidding.
The reason for the laugh is simple - this is a team that has looked old and lost on defense at times this season and now, through the magic of the NFL, it has a chance at getting to the next level where we all know that if a team gets hot at the right time, who knows what can happen.
The Steelers, under the guidance of a maligned Mike Tomlin this season, can get in, see where they land and either face Denver and make some noise and be a one and done team.
Cleveland is playing out the string, but this season has been an improvement if there ever was one. A porous running game and a quarterback conundrum aside the team has a defense that is ever improving and a secondary that can be down right scary at times.
Rob Chudzinski has this team moving in the right direction.
So with this in mind, here are three bold predictions for the final week of the NFL season.
Ben comes up big
Ben Roethlisberger has a monster game in which he throws for 390 yards and two touchdowns, both to Antonio Brown. He also has a nice game running the ball, where he scores a rushing touchdown at the goal line. After the game in an interview with local media, Ben calmly tells the Ohio faithful, “I went to school in your state, but you could not draft me. I just dropped the bomb on you.”
Josh Gordon does it again
No matter who the quarterback is, Josh Gordon seems to make him look good in Cleveland. For the Browns, that is an awesome accomplishment. This time, Gordon catches 10 passes for 280 yards and two scores. They are the only two scores of the game for Cleveland - but Gordon does not care. He lights up the scoreboard for his Browns and in doing so, proclaims he is the best wide receiver to ever play in Cleveland.
Steelers win - but lose
The Steelers win the game 35-14, but lose the chance to play in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh must win, and must have Baltimore, Miami, and San Diego lose. If that all happens, then Pittsburgh finishes ahead of Baltimore based on division record. The Jets would also finish ahead of Miami based on division record. It would then go to a three-way tie between the Chargers, Steelers, and Jets.
We all know that will not happen - this is the NFL. Anything that can go wrong usually does.