A No. 1 seed in the NFL playoffs is something that is earned in the chill of November and December.
The Steelers, however, are talking about it through the sweat of June.
After the Steelers lost to the Patriots in the 2016 AFC championship game, according to ESPN, head coach Mike Tomlin told his players to write down their goals for the 2017 season. During the final days of minicamp, the Steelers weren’t hiding their long-term thinking.
Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and defensive coordinator Keith Butler are on the same page. Heyward said he wants the top seed in the AFC and Butler said the “Super Bowl should go through Pittsburgh.”
Linebacker Ryan Shazier suggested the NFL has a “Patriots problem.”
Tomlin doesn’t mind his players looking so far ahead. Even he’s talked about home-field advantage in the playoffs at minicamp.
“These moments build to that. So, it’s just a way of capturing that mindset and mentality that all of these days are important. There are consequences for all of these moments and days,” Tomlin said.
When asked how his team looks, Tomlin said “hopefully I feel good about them in February.”
The top seed in the AFC could be decided when the Patriots visit the Steelers in Week 15. Tom Brady is 5-2 in his career at Heinz Field. So getting home-field advantage is one thing. Beating the Patriots is another.