While the Steelers believe it would have been a stretch for star wideout Antonio Brown to have played next week in a wild-card game if necessary, they are very optimistic he will be back coming out of that bye. Brown has been hobbled by a calf injury and was still limping into this week, but has shown progress since.

Brown is dead-set on playing in their opening postseason game and is getting around-the-clock treatment both at the team's facility as well as at his home, sources said. The extra week secured by landing a top-two seed in the AFC should provide enough time for him to be close enough to full strength to play in the postseason. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, that is the expectation in Pittsburgh.

Brown suffered the injury in Week 15, needing to be helped off the field and then taken to the hospital for further evaluation. He was seen as a front-runner in the MVP race prior to that point and has continued the record pace he has been on since becoming a starting receiver for the Steelers.