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Steelers, AFC North Teams Set Unprecedented Feat

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With the Cincinnati Bengals’ 31-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Cincinnati secured a winning season at 9-8. It also means that all four teams in the AFC North finished with a winning record. No division has done that in the Super Bowl era. It has occurred in NFL history, however. All the way back in 1935.

After winning the division in the last two seasons, Cincinnati will finish this year in the basement of the AFC North. No team has won the AFC North in three consecutive years, dating back to its start in 2002.

Baltimore finished with a league-best 13-4 record and are the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Cleveland will travel to Houston to face the Texans in the wild-card round next week. Pittsburgh will face either Buffalo, Kansas City, or Miami in the wild-card round.

 

The Steelers finished the season 10-7 and 5-1 in division play. Since the AFC North was adopted in 2002, the Steelers have registered 5+ division victories in a season eight times (more than Baltimore and Cincinnati combined).

The Steelers had a 9% chance of making the playoffs on the morning of Dec. 24, according to the New York Times playoff simulator. The season appeared to be over, but Mason Rudolph’s stellar play led the charge to three straight wins to end the regular season.

This is the third time in four years that the Steelers have made the postseason. However, Pittsburgh hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2016 season. The Steelers’ six-year playoff win draught is the longest since pre-1972. They’ve won just three playoff games since 2011, over quarterbacks such as A.J. McCarron, Matt Moore and Alex Smith. That’s the crux with the Steelers and Tomlin from the fanbase right now.

With the Steelers’ 30-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17, Tomlin extended his well-noted NFL record of non-losing seasons to 17 in a row to start his coaching career, which no other coach in NFL history has ever accomplished. Tomlin holds an impressive 173-100-2 career regular-season record, but he’s 8-9 in the playoffs.

Tomlin deserves a ton of credit for powering the Steelers to a 10-7 record with three different starting quarterbacks and a slew of injuries on defense, but he needs to produce in the playoffs.