What a difference a loss can make. The Steelers playoff picture got a whole lot more interesting after Monday’s defeat to the Washington Football Team. Pittsburgh is still a virtual lock to make the playoffs of course. The division and conference race’s got a little tighter however. Let’s check the standings, and the remaining games for all the AFC contenders:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1) – (8-0)
@Bills, Bengals, Colts, @Browns
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) – (9-1)
@Dolphins, @Saints, Falcons, Chargers
3. Buffalo Bills (9-3) – (6-2)
Steelers, @Broncos, @Patriots, Dolphins
4. Tennessee Titans (8-4) – (6-4)
@Jaguars, Lions, @Packers, @Texans
5. Cleveland Browns (9-3) – (6-3)
Ravens, @Giants, @Jets, Steelers
6. Miami Dolphins (8-4) – (5-3)
Chiefs, Patriots, @Raiders, @Bills
7. Indianapolis Colts (8-4) – (4-4)
@Raiders, Texans, @Steelers, Jaguars
8. Las Vegas Raiders (7-5) – (5-3)
Colts, Chargers, Dolphins, @Broncos
9. Baltimore Ravens (7-5) – (4-5)
@Browns, Jaguars, Giants, @Bengals
10. New England Patriots (6-6) – (5-4)
@Rams, @Dolphins, Bills, Jets
The Pittsburgh Steelers hold a slim lead in the race for the number one seed in the AFC due to conference record. Sunday’s game with Buffalo this Sunday now becomes extremely important in the AFC. If the Steelers were to lose, the Bills would pull to within one game and own the tiebreaker. It could also drop Pittsburgh to second in the AFC, providing the Chiefs win their game against the Dolphins. This makes the game against the Bills the most important game of the year for the Steelers. A reminder there is only one bye per conference with the new playoff format this year. https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/nfl-expanded-playoffs-how-many-teams/1p5noalpfti221hfyoinqckt81
The suddenly red hot Cleveland Browns are now within two games of the Steelers for the AFC North title. A Steelers loss combined with a Browns win on Sunday would bring them to within one game of Pittsburgh. These two teams meet in the final game of the season. That game could have major consequences for the AFC playoff picture, something we wouldn’t have believed a few weeks ago.
Good news/bad news on the Ravens. They currently sit ninth in the AFC, well out of the playoff picture. A win over Cleveland on Sunday however, and Baltimore could easily run the table. They only have games with the Jaguars, Giants, and Bengals after that. Something tells me the Ravens will be a playoff team before all is said and done.
For the second straight week the Steelers can clinch a playoff birth with just a win. Here are all the scenarios that would get them in the playoffs after this week:
1. Pittsburgh win or tie
2. Raiders loss or tie
3. Dolphins loss or tie
4. Titans loss
It can’t stressed enough how important this game is with Buffalo this Sunday. A win for the Steelers essentially knocks the Bills out of any chance of the number one seed. It also maintains a two game lead on Cleveland for the division with only three to play. A win, combined with a Browns loss would also clinch the AFC North title for the Steelers. A loss on the other hand, would throw the Steelers playoff picture into chaos. That’s a scenario this team needs to avoid.
We have said all along the Steelers only have a one year window to win a Super Bowl. Steelers have a one year window left to win a Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh can take a huge step towards that goal by defeating the Bills this week.