Winners of two straight, the defending Super Bowl Champions remain in the hunt for a playoff berth going into the final week of the regular season. The Steelers have shown some pride in recent weeks after their season appeared to be over after a devastating 13-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns in week 14.
On Sunday, the Steelers got some help with Denver (8-7) and Jacksonville (7-8) losing, however, Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell didn’t do the Steelers any favors last night in sitting his starters after the second quarter as the New York Jets (8-7) won a game that many didn’t envision them winning.
All of a sudden, the New York Jets control their playoff destiny. If the Jets beat Cincinnati in week 17, they are in. With the Bengals and Jets playing the final game of the regular season Sunday night, Cincinnati will know whether they have any chance of winning the No. 3 seed in the playoffs.
The Jets could get another late Christmas present as it’s very likely that Cincinnati will rest some of their starters Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the New England Patriots are the anti-Colts and will not back down for anyone and the vibe out of New England is that the Patriots will play to win at Houston (8-7) in week 17 as the Pats look to secure the No.3 seed.
The current playoff scenarios have the Steelers needing at least two of three teams (Houston 8-7, Baltimore 8-7, New York 8-7) to lose or tie. Here’s how the Steelers get into the playoffs……..
1. Steelers win @ Miami and Houston loses or ties and Baltimore loses or ties.
2. Steelers win @ Miami and Houston loses or ties, and New York Jets loses or ties.
3. Steelers win @ Miami and New York Jets lose or tie and Baltimore loses or ties and Denver loses or ties.
Of Houston (vs New England), New York Jets (vs Cincinnati) and Baltimore (@ Oakland), the Ravens have the easiest path to winning. Like the Jets, Baltimore also controls their destiny.
The Ravens have done what the Steelers haven’t been able to do; beat inferior teams. The Steelers will be disgusted to see a team like the Jets or Texans make the playoffs but they have no one to blame but themselves.
Win one of those three games against Kansas City, Oakland or Cleveland and the Steelers have a clear path to the playoffs.
For the Steelers sake, they have found a way to remain in the hunt. Now it will come to winning their final regular season and getting some help from the Patriots, Bengals or Raiders.
As bad as the Raiders have been at times this season, four of their five wins have come against winning teams. (Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Denver).
Houston won’t have an easy path to victory with New England coming to town while Cincinnati – New York figures to be a close defensive game regardless of whether Carson Palmer & Co play the entire game.
The odds are stacked against the Steelers but all they can focus on is winning at Miami and let the rest take care of itself.
Current Playoff Seeds (5-9)
***Tiebreakers such as common games come into play in week 17. Baltimore and New York Jets control their destiny. Baltimore owns tiebreaker against Denver……
5. Denver Broncos (8-7)
Week 17 opponent: Kansas City (3-12)
6. N.Y. Jets (8-7)
Week 17 opponent: Cincinnati (10-5)
7. Baltimore Ravens (8-7)
Week 17 opponent: at Oakland (5-10)
8. Houston Texans (8-7)
Week 17 opponent: New England (10-5)
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)
Week 17 opponent: at Miami (7-8)
Own head-to-head tiebreaker with Denver.