Coming off their biggest win of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have put themselves in great shape for a playoff push. There is still much work to do however. There are several teams still breathing down their neck for the sixth and final playoff spot. Here’s a look at the current standings in the AFC:
1. Baltimore Ravens (10-2)
2. New England Patriots (10-2)
3. Houston Texans (8-4)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
5. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
7. Tennessee Titans (7-5)
8. Oakland Raiders (6-6)
9. Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
10. Cleveland Browns (5-7)
This race is over folks. The Ravens are likely going to be the number one seed in the entire AFC. Barring some sort of miracle, the Baltimore Ravens will be the AFC North champions in 2019.
The Titans have moved up as the number one threat to the Steelers for the final wild card spot. Pittsburgh holds the tie-breaker on conference schedule as it stands right now (6-3 vs 5-4). Tennessee has a brutal schedule the remainder of the season however. They have two matchups with division leading Houston, to go along with games against the Saints and Raiders. The Raiders and Colts are still very much alive, but seem to be headed in the wrong direction at this point. The sneaky one to watch here is the Cleveland Browns. They still have two games versus the hapless Bengals, and one against the Cardinals left on their schedule. The Browns could very realistically go 3-1 the rest of the way.
The Steelers have a very good chance to nail down a playoff spot with as little as a 2-2 record the rest of the way. It all starts this Sunday with an absolute must-win in Arizona. If the Steelers take care of business against the Cardinals and Jets, that should be enough to get them through.
There is also a scenario where Pittsburgh could grab the five seed away from the Buffalo Bills as well. The Bills are about to embark on a brutal three game stretch against Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, and then at New England. The game on December 15th between the Steelers and Bills may be for the final wild card seeding in the AFC. The difference between the fifth and sixth seed could mean having a trip to face the Texans in Houston, rather than going to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs. That’s a pretty significant difference in opponents and venue.
Here are the remaining schedules for all the playoff contenders ranked from easiest to hardest for opponents schedule, opponents winning percentage in parentheses:
1. Tennessee Titans (67%)
@Raiders, Titans, Saints, @Texans
2. Buffalo Bills (65%)
Ravens, @Steelers, @Patriots, Jets
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (55%)
@Cardinals, Bills, @Jets, @Ravens
4. Baltimore Ravens (52%)
Bills, Jets, @Browns, Steelers
5. Kansas City Chiefs (52%)
@Patriots, Broncos, @Bears, Chargers
6. Indianapolis Colts (51%)
@Buccaneers, @Saints, Panthers, @Jaguars
7. Houston Texans (48%)
Broncos, @Titans, @Buccaneers, Titans
8. New England Patriots (46%)
Chiefs, @Bengals, Bills, Dolphins
9. Oakland Raiders (41%)
Titans, Jaguars, @Chargers, @Broncos
10. Cleveland Browns (34%)
Bengals, @Cardinals, Ravens, @Bengals
It’s a minor miracle this team is still in playoff conversation. All the injuries they have suffered would have finished most teams. The fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers control their own destiny after ten weeks without their starting quarterback is quite the accomplishment. All thats left to complete this unlikely story is for Pittsburgh to take care of business against the bottom feeders on their schedule. Do that, and there will be playoff football for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.