The Steelers path to the playoffs is pretty straight forward at this point.  They simply can not afford more than one more loss, while hoping some of the teams in front of them falter.  The tie versus the Detroit Lions has essentially eliminated any tie-breaker scenarios for this team.  Making things worse, Pittsburgh has the fifth toughest remaining schedule to conclude the season.  

Let’s take a look at the current playoff picture, with each team’s remaining games:

1. New England Patriots: (9-4) 

Remaining games – Bye, @Colts, Bills, Jaguars, @Dolphins

2.  Tennessee Titans: (8-4)

Remaining games – Jaguars, @Steelers, 49ers, Dolphins, @Texans

3.  Baltimore Ravens: (8-4)

Remaining games – @Browns, Packers, @Bengals, Rams, Steelers

4.  Kansas City Chiefs: (8-4)

Remaining games – Raiders, @Chargers, Steelers, @Bengals, @Broncos

5. Los Angeles Chargers: (7-5)

Remaining games – Giants, Chiefs, @Texans, Broncos, @Raiders

6. Cincinnati Bengals: (7-5)

Remaining games – 49ers, @Broncos, Ravens, Chiefs, @Browns

7.  Buffalo Bills: (7-5)

Remaining games – @Buccaneers, Panthers, @New England, Falcons, Jets


8. Pittsburgh Steelers: (6-5-1)

Remaining games – @Vikings, Titans, @Cheifs, Browns, @Ravens

9.  Indianapolis Colts: (7-6)

Remaining games – Bye, @Patriots, Cardinals, Raiders, @Jaguars

10.  Las Vegas Raiders: (6-6)

Remaining games – @Cheifs, @Browns, Broncos, @Colts, Chargers

11. Cleveland Browns: (6-6)

Remaining games – Ravens, Raiders, @Packers, @Steelers, Bengals

12. Denver Broncos: (6-6)

Remaining games – Lions, Bengals, @Raiders, @Chargers, Chiefs

13. Miami Dolphins: (6-7)

Remaining games – Bye, Jets, @Saints, @Titans, Patriots

Catching up:

Remarkably, there are still thirteen teams alive for the playoffs in the AFC as we head into week 14.  With such a jumbled mess, it’s hard to see a scenario of the Steelers making the playoffs without running the table.  Surely more than one loss will eliminate them from any post season hopes.

As far as the teams ahead of them are concerned, the Bengals seem like the most likely to slip up.  Cincinnati has the sixth toughest schedule remaining.  The Bills are reeling, but they finish the season with two gimmies versus the Jets and Falcons at home.  They do have two tough road games against the Buccaneers and Patriots however.  The Chargers also have two extremely easy games against the Giants and Texans left on their schedule.

Believe it or not, the AFC North title is still not out of the Steelers grasp yet either.  Pittsburgh still has a game to play against the North leading Ravens.  Being only 1 1/2 games behind means the Steelers only need one loss by the Ravens to make that final game between the two for all the marbles.

The Breakdown:

The Steelers schedule isn’t quite as daunting as it seems on the surface.  They have a must win against the struggling Vikings tonight.  Followed by the injury decimated Titans next week.  Tennessee simply is not the same team without Derrick Henry.  The Chiefs game on December 26th could be the biggest game of the season. Kansas City’s offense has struggled all season, but remains extremely dangerous.  Arrow Head Stadium is also one of the toughest road venue’s in all of football. If Pittsburgh can find a way to win that game, an AFC North title becomes a very real possibility.  Assuming of course the Steelers win all of their remaining five games.

In our pre-season predictions, we guessed the Pittsburgh Steelers would finish the season at 10-7.   Steelers Sanctuary 2021 season predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers  While that record is still in play more or less, what we didn’t expect is such a jumbled AFC playoff race.  Ten wins will likely be the minimum to make the playoffs in this conference.  The Steelers winning at least 4 of their next 5 is an absolute must.  Otherwise they will be on the outside lookin in for the post season.