Pittsburgh put themselves back in contention

Pittsburgh put themselves back in contention

The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their impressive recent form with a determined 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills. As well as earning the franchise a fourth straight victory, three of them coming on the road, the win also saw Pittsburgh put themselves back into playoff contention. The AFC Wildcard race looks like it's going to be a thrilling one, and the Steelers will know they can't afford to slip up as they attempt to win the AFC North for the fifth time in 10 years. The Baltimore Ravens will push Mike Tomlin's men all the way, and Pittsburgh's route to the playoffs is still far from certain despite their recent good run. 

Perhaps unexpectedly, Ben Roethlisberger has been crucial to the Steelers' return to form since this team bounced back from four straight defeats with a win over the Cleveland Browns on November 20. Having struggled with injury and form during Pittsburgh's dismal run of losses that really threatened to derail the franchise's season, the veteran quarterback has rediscovered his best form over the past few weeks. Now in his 13th year as a professional, Big Ben has produced some incredible performances as the Steelers have racked up wins over the Browns, Colts, Giants and the Bills

"Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers" (CC BY 2.0) by EDrost88

It hasn't just been Roethlisberger, though, that has been key to Pittsburgh dragging their regular season back from the brink, with Antonio Brown starting to produce the sort of performances that have helped him secure Pro Bowl status on three separate occasions. Add to that a Le'Veon Bell playing for a new contract, rushing for 236 yards and 298 from scrimmage against the Bills, and this offense is finally starting to click just at the right time. Priced at around 10/1 with the bet365 NFL betting odds, there is definitely a lot to like about the Steelers for those looking for a slight long shot this season. 

Despite their patchy regular season between round 3 and 10, there won't be many teams who will relish the prospect of facing the Steelers come the postseason - barring any late-season slip-up. When it comes to the really nitty gritty of the postseason, there aren't many more reliable signal callers than Roethlisberger. At 34, the veteran quarterback will know that his chances to win a third Super Bowl are running out. But for a player who has never relied on his physical ability throughout his career, who knows. The Pittsburgh stalwart might actually fulfil that five-year contract extension he signed last season.

The Steelers leader's importance to this team was highlighted during his mid-season injury, which coincided with the team's four-game losing run. Now back fully fit - or as close to fully fit as the big QB ever gets - all the pieces certainly look to be coming together at the right time. For Mike Tomlin, who guided the franchise to Super Bowl glory in just his second year in charge, the Pittsburgh head coach will know that he has to ensure his influential quarterback can help secure a place in the playoffs while also staying injury-free and ready for what could be a four-game postseason.

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