But the way things currently stand in the AFC, either the Steelers or New England Patriots have a very good chance of joining the 1998 Atlanta Falcons or 1986 Chicago Bears as 14-2 teams that just weren't quite good enough.
With a win Sunday against the Jets or a loss by the Ravens in
Baltimore against the Giants, the Steelers will lock up their third
division title in the past four seasons.
Next up will be securing home field advantage throughout the
And even though the Steelers have failed to reach the Super
Bowl in the two times they've owned home field advantage
throughout the AFC playoffs under head coach Bill Cowher -
falling short in 2001 and 1992 - securing it once again is what
"History has proven (home field advantage) is certainly the
highest percentage way of getting to the Super Bowl," said
Cowher. "I think everyone is striving for that, so there's no
question you want to play at home. It's big. There's no question
you can feed off the crowd and it's a decided advantage for your
defense when you have that noise being a factor for you, just in
terms of getting off on the ball. Offenses will be late off the ball
pass protection or late off the ball in the running game. It can be
a decided advantage for you."
In that respect, Cowher is correct. Seven of the past 11 Super
Bowl champions were teams who held home field advantage
throughout either the AFC or NFC playoffs.
As for those 1998 Falcons and 1986 Bears, they didn't fare quite
so well. The Falcons, who finished second in the NFC to 15-1
Minnesota, went on to win the NFC Championship, but were
destroyed in the Super Bowl by Denver. The 1986 Bears,
meanwhile, were upset in the first round by the Washington Redskins.
Rare feat indeed
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