5 keys to the Steelers’ playoff future

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Dec 6, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Brandon Boykin (25) celebrates his interception with linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Click below to view a slideshow on the keys for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the rest of the season. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are arguably the most dangerous team in the AFC.

With the league’s second-ranked offense and the sixth-best rushing defense, it would be easy to believe that the Steelers would be atop not only the AFC North, but that they would be one of the very best teams in the AFC.

However, the NFL doesn’t always work out that way.

The Steelers currently find themselves on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff picture. At 7-5, the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets hold tie-breakers over the black and gold. The Steelers will meet the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals on the road on Sunday and will welcome the Denver Broncos and the league’s top-rated defense the following weekend.

After a decisive 45-10 victory at home against the resurgent Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers have regained the momentum they may have left in Seattle when they encountered the defending NFC champions just a week ago.

With the AFC North crown seemingly out of reach, the Steelers will have to finish strong if they hope to eclipse a wild card spot. Here are five things that must happen for the Steelers if they hope to do what my fantasy team could not, make the playoffs.

Next: 5. Keep Martavis Bryant involved