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Ben Roethlisberger leading historic Steelers offense

The Pittsburgh Steelers are poised to play the spoiler role in the race for the AFC's No. 1 seed entering the postseason.

Directing a historically prolific offensive attack, Ben Roethlisberger has a chance to knock off the AFC North-leading Bengals this week and the AFC West-leading Broncos the following week.

How explosive is Pittsburgh play-caller Todd Haley's offense?

Per NFL Research, the Steelers' 2,116 yards over the past four games are second only to the 1982 "Air Coryell" Chargers for most ever in a four-game span.

Throwing better than ever while relentlessly attacking downfield, Roethlisberger leads all NFL quarterbacks in points per drive (2.66), yards per attempt (8.9) and completions of 40-plus yards (15).

If he hadn't missed four games due to injuries, Roethlisberger would be in the MVP picture alongside Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer.

Although it's impressive that Roethlisberger is playing at such a high level without the game's best all-around running back (Le'Veon Bell), a pair of Pro Bowlers (tight end Heath Miller, center Maurkice Pouncey) and his blindside protector (Kelvin Beachum), the replacements have more than held their own.

Better yet, Roethlisberger is enjoying gridiron life with the NFL's most dynamic wide receiver corps.

The gold standard of route runners, Antonio Brown's recent history looks like a section out of Jerry Rice's prime. No other receiver comes close to Brown's 332 receptions and 4,506 yards over the past three years.

As unstoppable as Brown has been with a healthy Roethlisberger, he's not even the most talented receiver on the roster.

That honor goes to playmaking machine Martavis Bryant, whom Haley has dubbed "The Alien" for a freakish combination of size, speed and coordination not found in other human beings.

"I don't know what you do against this guy," NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth raved during last week's game versus the Colts. "I'm telling you: Physically, he's as talented as anybody playing in football right now. ... He's 6-foot-4, he runs about a 4.3. Seems like every time we do a game, he scores a touchdown or two. ... He is a freakish athlete."

Beyond those two mismatches, Roethlisberger is finally developing an intriguing rapport with third-year enigmaMarkus Wheaton, who has generated 12 receptions, 251 yards and two touchdowns over the past two weeks.

The AFC contenders better hope Roethlisberger falls short against the stout defenses of Cincinnati and Denver in the coming weeks. If the Steelers reach the postseason, they are going to be a tough out for the higher seeds.

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