Parity in a league that covets it like no other is such that the Steelers find themselves in a unique position with four games to play.
They are currently just one game out of the race for the second AFC wild-card berth, and yet if the season ended tomorrow the Steelers would have the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Whether the Steelers can make a legitimate run at that second wild-card berth remains to be seen. A team that hasn't won four games in a row in more than a year has to do just that -- and get some help -- to sneak into the playoffs. What helps with the Steelers facing the first of four must-win games Sunday against the visiting Dolphins is that they somehow remain very much in the playoff picture despite everything that has gone wrong this season.
"It's good for morale. It just means too much more to play for each other, to be able to play for a team goal, that there's still a team goal out there," free safety and team captain Ryan Clark said. "It keeps you up in the locker room, it keeps you together, it allows you to understand that you're still fighting for something and that's good."
Jerricho Cotchery agreed.
"You never want to be in a position when you're playing for pride, things of that nature," the veteran wide receiver said. "You want to go into these four of the season and have the games be meaningful."
Meaningful could quickly turn to meaningless if the Dolphins win in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1990. That is why the Steelers still can't concern themselves with what happens around them even if, as Clark said, "We know our position."
"We know where we stand," the 12th-year veteran said, "but nothing matters if we don't win games."
That mentality is such that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said earlier this week that the playoffs have already started for the Steelers.
"It's been that way for the last couple of weeks and it's going to keep being that way for us," Roethlisberger said. "My mentality is trying to get that first win. I don't care about the big picture right now. It's just this week."