Around the AFC North: Post-Week 8 Notes

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Nov 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) runs the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at Heinz Field. The Bengals won the game 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)

The Steeler’s loss on Sunday was brutal, as it was a completely winnable game. But losing Le’Veon Bell for the season easily trumps the disappointment from the loss. Bell is the focal point of the Steelers’ offense; even with Ben Roethlisberger slinging passes, Pittsburgh’s offense is exponentially slower without its superstar running back. This was not only evident in the Steelers’ 2014 playoff loss to the Ravens, but also in Pittsburgh’s loss to Cincinnati on Sunday.

While Antonio BrownMartavis Bryant and Heath Miller are all nice weapons on offense, Bell’s impact in both the running and passing games makes his teammates better players; Le’Veon Bell will be missed.

Pittsburgh is already 3.5 games behind the Bengals and looks like a longshot to win the AFC North, but that’s not to say that the Steelers aren’t still playoff contenders. Pittsburgh is still sitting at 4-4, which means the Steelers would be the best AFC team to miss the playoffs if they started today.

The Steelers are the only .500 team in the AFC, and only five teams in the conference have better records than Pittsburgh. But in order to qualify for the playoffs, the Steelers will have to both pass either the Jets or Raiders and hold off other teams like the Bills, Dolphins and Chiefs, to have a chance. Reaching the playoffs seems like a feasible and attainable goal for the Steelers–even without their All-Pro running back.

And if DeAngelo Williams can keep up his progress, the Steelers’ running game could still be pretty good this season.

Steelers fall short against undefeated Bengals (Still Curtain)

Steelers officially place Le’Veon Bell on IR (Still Curtain)

Chill out or freak out: Week 8 Edition (Behind the Steel Curtain)

Inconsistency haunts the Steelers at mid-season point (Behind the Steel Curtain)

Next: Baltimore Ravens