DENVER - NOVEMBER 09: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers directs the offense against the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 9, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Steelers defeated the Broncos 28-10. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Steelers have had it rough the last couple of weeks, dropping two straight while the Cincinnati Bengals have closed the gap in the wildcard race. Ben Roethlisberger's status is still up in the air for this weekend's game against the Ravens, but even with another loss, the Steelers aren't in terrible shape in the playoff picture.
The Steelers have a couple of key things going for them. First off, they beat the Bengals earlier in the season, which keeps their destiny in their own hands. Their second matchup with the Bengals comes in week 16. It's a must-win game for Pittsburgh, but it's far enough down the road that Ben Roethlisberger should be ready to go without any problems.
There's a third team that has begun to creep back into the playoff race. The Miami Dolphins are just a game behind the Steelers and the Bengals. Still, they have a knack for dropping games they need to win. I'll believe they're a contender if they're still around by week 16.
The last factor to consider is that the Steelers have a relatively manageable final stretch following this weekend's game against the Ravens. From there, the Steelers play the Chargers, Cowboys, Bengals and Browns. With Roethlisberger almost certainly back in the lineup for the Chargers game, the Steelers' season will likely hinge on their week 16 matchup against the Bengals.
The Steelers haven't done themselves any favors in Ben Roethlisberger's absence, but it's certainly no time to hit the panic button in Pittsburgh. Even with a loss this weekend, the Steelers control their own destiny, and their schedule rounds out the season on a favorable note. Let's not write this team off just yet. They've won a Super Bowl from the sixth seeded position, and if they get hot, doing it again is well within the realm of possibility.