The free-falling Pittsburgh Steelers are on the verge of doing something that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. After losing in embarrassing fashion to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, Pittsburgh could blow its division lead and allow the Cleveland Browns to win the AFC North.

Following an 11-0 start, the Steelers extended their losing streak to three after being upset by the Bengals 24-17 as a two-touchdown favorite. The Browns dismantled the New York Giants 20-6 Sunday night, winning for the fifth time in their last six games to improve to 10-4.

Cleveland enters Week 16 just one game behind Pittsburgh (11-3) for first placein the division. The Steelers are one more loss away from playing a de facto AFC North title game on the road in the regular-season finale.

Pittsburgh is scheduled to visit Cleveland in Week 17. If the Steelers lose to the Indianapolis Colts and the Browns beat the New York Jets in Week 16, the matchup between Pittsburgh and Cleveland will determine the division winner.

The Browns are expected to cruise to a victory against the one-win Jets. Cleveland is a 9.5-point road favorite, according to odds compiled by OddsShark.

The Steelers face a much more difficult task against the visiting Colts, who are 10-4 and still fighting to secure a playoff berth. Pittsburgh is now a 1.5-point underdog against Indianapolis.

The most concerning part of the Steelers’ losing streak is their competition. Pittsburgh has been defeated by the Bengals and Washington Football Team, both of which have sub-.500 records. The Buffalo Bills beat the Steelers in Week 14, taking over the No.2 overall seed in the AFC.

Pittsburgh has already clinched a postseason berth. Losing the division would mean having to play on the road in the first round of the playoffs instead of hosting a game on Wild-Card Weekend. 

Cleveland hasn’t clinched a postseason berth yet. If the Browns beat the Jets, they are in the playoffs with a loss from either the Colts, Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Ravens.

Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers jogs to the locker room during halftime at Paul Brown Stadium on December 21, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images