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Sunday, November 30, 2008
Pittsburgh makes impressive statement

Posted by's James Walker

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) remaining schedule
Dec. 7 vs. Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
Comment: Pittsburgh is 1-2 against the NFC East but could finish .500 against the NFL's toughest division.
Dec. 14 at Baltimore Ravens (8-4)
Comment: This is by far the biggest game in the division. 
Dec. 20 at Tennessee Titans (11-1)
Comment: Pittsburgh probably can't catch Tennessee but could leave an impression if these teams meet again.
Dec. 28 vs. Cleveland Browns (4-8)
Comment: This could be an opportunity to rest players if the Steelers take care of business.
The Pittsburgh Steelers not only made a huge statement, but they positioned themselves to make a deep postseason run with Sunday's 33-10 victory over the New England Patriots.

The win has multiple benefits for the Steelers, who improved to 9-3. They earned a head-to-head tiebreaker over New England (7-5) in the event it ever comes down to it. Pittsburgh also gained a game on the New York Jets (8-4), who lost to the Denver Broncos and remain the biggest threats to the Steelers in terms of playoff seeding.

And the No. 2 seed is a coveted prize this year in the balanced AFC. It would mean a first-round bye and a home game at Heinz Field for Pittsburgh, which potentially would set up a one-game scenario against the Tennessee Titans in the conference title game with a chance to go to Tampa.

What we learned Sunday was the route Pittsburgh's top-rated defense will travel. The Steelers haven't had a bad game defensively all season, and as long as they don't turn over the football, Pittsburgh should be in every game regardless of the opponent and location.

This, along with the win over the Washington Redskins, was among Pittsburgh's most impressive

Baltimore Ravens (8-4) remaining schedule
Dec. 7 vs. Washington Redskins (7-5)
Comment: This is a good time to catch the Redskins, losers of three of their last four.
Dec. 14 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
Comment: This is a must-win game if Baltimore wants to win the AFC North.
Dec. 20 at Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
Comment: This is the only road game remaining, but it will be a tough one.
Dec. 28 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
Comment: This is a very winnable game, which is good because it's probably another must-win.
victories of the season. The Steelers went on the road to Gillette Stadium and won the turnover battle 5-to-1 and halted the hot streak of New England quarterback Matt Cassel, who entered Sunday with back-to-back 400-yard games.

Perhaps the biggest challenge going forward is can the Steelers hold off the surging Baltimore Ravens (8-4), who won their sixth game in seven weeks with an impressive 34-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals?

Both schedules are rugged. Baltimore and Pittsburgh each play three teams with winning records in its final four games. But the biggest matchup remaining could be against one another when the Ravens host the Steelers on Dec. 14.

The winner of that game may not only earn the AFC North title, but a free pass into the second round of the postseason.