PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers are exactly halfway through the NFL's regular season, which makes the math easy.
Just multiply everything by two to project final totals.
How good that would be for a team that improved to 6-2 with Sunday's 25-17 victory over the New England Patriots at Heinz Field Sunday evening.
Troy Polamalu celebrates with the Steelers defense during the final moments Sunday.
That would put the Steelers at 12-4 and surely get them a spot in the AFC playoff field.
Alas, that kind of calculation is as foolish as it is easy because a lot of things can happen to derail the projection.
For proof, consult the 2009 Steelers. They were 6-2 after eight games, but wound up 9-7 and out of the playoffs after inexplicable losses to Oakland and Cleveland in consecutive games.
The only guarantee in the NFL is high prices at the concession stands.
With that in mind, ponder this sweet thought on trick or treat morning:
n The Steelers currently appear to have as good a chance as anyone to again represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Coming into the season it looked like they were a playoff team, but maybe a notch behind the elite teams in the conference.
As the season opened, the Patriots, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens looked like the leaders in the AFC.
The Patriots and Ravens are 5-2. The Jets are 4-3.
The West-leading San Diego Chargers take a 4-2 record into tonight's game against Kansas City.
The Ravens rebounded Sunday after falling behind against Arizona, an important step after a horrid loss to Jacksonville.
But the main issue is Sunday's measuring stick game on Pittsburgh's North Shore.
The Steelers stared down the Patriots and beat them at their own game.
They exploited the Patriots' weak defense, possessed the ball and completed passes seemingly at will.
In the end, Ben Roethlisberger out-Brady'd Tom Brady.
It's only one game, but it shows that there are no perfect teams in the AFC. Everyone has some flaw.
We put the Steelers under the microscope every week and clearly see what's wrong. The offensive line is spotty. Rashard Mendenhall hasn't been running well. Injuries and age are a concern on defense.
But the other top teams in the AFC have issues as well. Did you see the Patriots' defense?
The Steelers entered the tough part of their schedule by passing the first test impressively.
"They outplayed us and outcoached us," Patriots coach Bill Belichick grumbled after the game.
That's the kind of thing losing coaches are supposed to say, but there was a lot of truth in it.
Much-maligned offensive coordinator (that's become his official title) Bruce Arians identified the soft spots in the Patriots defense and came up with a plan that allowed Roethlisberger to pick them apart.
While the fleet young receivers were racing up the field, the Patriots didn't realize the real enemy was tight end Heath Miller in the middle of the field.
The offense executed and made it easier for the defense by keeping Brady on the sideline.
Good plan, good execution, good win.
Do the same thing in Sunday night's home game against Baltimore, and the Steelers will put themselves a solid step ahead of the division.
Keep it up, and they'll position themselves well for the postseason.
At the halfway point, the view is better than expected.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.