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Week 17 NFL Predictions And Picks: Playoff Picture For Steelers Will Clear Up Sunday

The 2011 NFL playoff picture for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the AFC North is still a bit murky, but the waters will clear up this Sunday depending on the outcomes of some key matchups.

Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Cleveland Browns 3 - The Steelers will end their regular season against the team that took out Ben Roethlisberger a few weeks ago. Against the Browns, Big Ben injured his ankle which caused him to play essentially on one leg against the San Francisco 49ers and miss last weeks win over the St. Louis Rams. The Steelers defense was able to handle the Browns relatively easily last time, especially once a concussed Colt McCoy re-entered the game. The Browns will be without McCoy on Sunday, however, so their stagnant offense will likely once again be stifled by the Steelers defense.

Cincinnati Bengals 20, Baltimore Ravens 17 - The Ravens were able to knock off the Bengals back in November in the their first match up, but the Bengals are now fighting for a playoff position. In the first match up, the Ravens offense was able to put up nearly 400 yards of offense while Andy Dalton turned the ball over three times. A repeat of both of those instances is unlikely and the Bengals are going to want to game more, winning on a late field goal.

New England Patriots 30, Buffalo Bills 23 - The match up between the Patriots and the Bills has no bearing on the AFC North, but if the Steelers are able to win the division it could have an effect on the seeding in the playoffs. After the Bills were able to knock off Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, they'll have a much tougher go of it against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady isn't likely to throw four interceptions, including some returned for touchdowns. The Patriots can close out the season avenging one of their three losses and seal the number one seed in the AFC.

For more on the Steelers, please visit Behind the Steel Curtain, SB Nation's Steelers blog. Also stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.