A second straight loss put a damper on the Pittsburgh Steelers playoff picture. While the team did clinch its first playoff spot since 2017, the race for the number one seed may have been lost. Let’s take a look first at the AFC standings, and remaining opponents:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-1) (10-1)
@Saints, Falcons, Chargers
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) (8-1)
@Bengals, Colts, @Browns
3. Buffalo Bills (10-3) 7-2)
@Broncos, @Patriots, Dolphins
4. Tennessee Titans (9-4) (7-4)
Lions, @Packers, @Texans
5. Cleveland Browns (9-4) (6-4)
@Giants, @Jets, Steelers
6. Indianapolis Colts (9-4) (5-4)
Texans, @Steelers, Jaguars
7. Miami Dolphins (8-5) (5-4)
Patriots, @Raiders, @Bills
8. Baltimore Ravens (8-5) (5-5)
Jaguars, Giants, @Bengals
9. Las Vegas Raiders (7-6) (5-4)
Chargers, Dolphins, @Broncos
The Steelers took a major hit in losing to the Bills Sunday night in the race for the number one seed. They are now a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs, and only one game ahead of Buffalo for second place. The Chiefs do have to travel to New Orleans this week, while the Steelers are at the Bengals. The tie breakers make this very interesting. The first tie breaker is conference record. Both teams stand at one loss as of now. The next one is division record, where Pittsburgh holds the edge by one game. So there is still hope for a bye provided the Steelers win out, and the Chiefs lose at least one game. Here is a complete list of tie breaking rules:https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/12/nfl-playoff-seeding-rules-tiebreakers
I guess we all owe the Baltimore Ravens a big thank you after there win over the Browns Monday night. The Cleveland loss all but assures that the Steelers will be AFC North champs in 2020. Pittsburgh can clinch with a win in any of there three remaining games, or one more Browns loss.
An unfortunate byproduct of that Ravens win is that they essentially secured themselves a playoff spot as well. With their last three games being the Jaguars, Giants and Bengals, there is a very good chance they run the table. The Dolphins would have to do the same with a much tougher schedule to hold onto the 7th playoff spot. A opening round matchup between the Steelers and Ravens is a real possibility right now.
As much as Steelers fans are worried after two straight losses, Pittsburgh is still in a very good position right now. A win on Monday night earns them the AFC North title, and no worse than the third seed in the AFC. The difference between the two and three seeds at this point is negligible. Home field advantage without fans isn’t much of an advantage at all as we have learned. So if the Chiefs win against the Saints, and the number one seed is nearly out of reach, the Steelers can and should start resting players for the playoffs. This also gives Mike Tomlin time to figure out their struggling offense. Steelers offense requires some tough decisions by Mike Tomlin If he can do that, this team is in for a long playoff run regardless of seeding.