Pittsburgh Steelers: Is Ryan Clark’s Playoff Prediction Realistic?

By Clyde A. Speller
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Even after a 0-4 start to the 2013 NFL season, all optimism hasn’t left the Pittsburgh Steelers. Safety Ryan Clark predicted to the media this past Monday that the Steelers will make the postseason despite the team’s early misfortunes. Clark, one of Pittsburgh’s team captains, expressed to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review just how he felt about the Steelers’ chances after their Week 5 bye.

“I just believe we can win. That’s just the bottom line,” Clark said. “I think we have the people in this room, the coaches (to win). Also, looking at our schedule, we’re not playing world-beaters, we’re not playing gods. We’re playing men.”

I totally understand his positive thinking, being one of the leaders of the team and all. However, can his statement convince all of Steeler Nation to think the same way? Looking at how the first four games went, the answer to that question is probably “no.”

Hearing the end of that statement seems a bit interesting to me. It’s true that they won’t be playing “gods” and “world-beaters” in the upcoming weeks, but they weren’t playing “gods” and “world-beaters” in the first four weeks, and they still loss.

Regardless of the stature of who they face for the remainder of the season, the Steelers have a steep hill to climb. They are currently last in the AFC North, while the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are all tied for first place in the division with 3-2 records. In addition, Pittsburgh is already 0-1 in divisional play, and nine of their next 12 games are against teams that currently have winning records.

Playoffs? That’s a long stretch. If that were to happen, their best chance would be clinching a playoff berth by winning the division. Seeing just how tight things are and how dominant the rest of the AFC is, the chances of a wild card spot being awarded to an AFC North team are slim. The Steelers will definitely have to win the remaining five divisional games they have on their schedule, along with a few other major wins.

Is Clark’s prediction a realistic one? I would say no for now, but I wouldn’t bet anything on it. There are 12 more games left, and anything can happen during that time. However, if Clark and the rest of the Steelers want to make this a reality, they will need to find some answers quickly, because the margin of error is virtually gone.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+

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