Print and Go Back ESPN.com: AFC North [Print without images]

Monday, December 19, 2011
Steelers find themselves in perfect position

By Jamison Hensley

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Steelers couldn't have written a better script for themselves leading up to Monday night's game at the 49ers. After nearly everything went Pittsburgh's way Sunday, the Steelers can take hold of the AFC North and the AFC's top seed with a win over San Francisco.

The Ravens' loss at San Diego puts the Steelers in control of the division because Baltimore fell a half-game back of Pittsburgh. If the Steelers (10-3) win out, they would capture the AFC North for the fourth time in five years (and it wouldn't matter that the Ravens swept them or went undefeated in the division).

The Texans' loss to Carolina gives the Steelers the inside track for the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Steelers win out, the only other team that can finish with a 13-3 record is the New England Patriots. And Pittsburgh would win the tiebreaker for the top seed because it beat the Patriots earlier this season.

The Steelers' game at the NFC West champion 49ers (10-3) is the most challenging one left on their schedule. Pittsburgh finishes up the regular season against two last-place teams: home against St. Louis (2-12) and at Cleveland (4-10)