PITTSBURGH -- Are the Pittsburgh Steelers likely to win their final four games of the season to finish 9-7? No. Can it be done? Absolutely.
"We know our position," free safety Ryan Clark said. “We know where we stand but nothing matters if we don’t win games."
The Steelers may not have a safety net under them as they try to walk a high wire for the rest of the season. But the remaining quarter of the schedule sets up favorably for them as the Steelers play three of their final four games at home.
And their lone remaining road contest is against the Packers, who may or may not have starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers for that Dec. 22 game.
Here is a look at the Steelers’ final four opponents (all times are ET):
Dolphins, 1 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field: The turmoil created by allegations of bullying in the Dolphins’ locker room has not sunk Miami's season -- yet. The Dolphins are 6-6 despite all of the distractions swirling around the embattled franchise, and they will try to win in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1990. Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill is still finding his way but he has given the Dolphins hope that their search for a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired is over. Tannehill can make all of the throws, but all three of his multiple interception games this season have come in losses.
Bengals, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Heinz Field: The Steelers could have beaten the Bengals in Cincinnati in September and that was without running back Le'Veon Bell and tight end Heath Miller. The Bengals are 8-4 and in control of the AFC North, but this isn’t Denver or New England precisely because of the team’s quarterbacks. Andy Dalton has yet to fully earn the trust of Bengals fans despite leading Cincinnati to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. Dalton has again given them reason to worry. After throwing for over 300 yards in four consecutive games with 11 touchdown passes and six interceptions, Dalton has fallen into a bit of a slump. He is averaging 185.6 passing yards in the Bengals’ past three games with six touchdowns and six interceptions.
Packers 4:25 p.m., Dec. 22 at Lambeau Field: There is a huge X factor here and that is whether Rodgers plays. If the Packers (5-6-1) fall out of contention in the NFC North, there is no reason for them to bring Rodgers back this season from a broken collarbone. And if Rodgers doesn’t play, the Steelers may well be favored in this game considering how badly the Packers have struggled since losing their Pro Bowl quarterback.
Browns, 1 p.m., Dec. 29 at Heinz Field: This is as close to a gimme as there is, as the Browns (4-8) have lost three consecutive games and assumed their customary position at the bottom of the AFC North. The Browns have virtually no offense aside from wide receiver Josh Gordon, and their search for a capable quarterback continues. It’s hard to imagine the Browns getting up for this game, although they would love nothing more than to knock off their archrivals if the Steelers have something on the line.