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Steelers Playoff Hopes Dwindling

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The Baltimore Ravens must be the luckiest team in NFL history.

They should’ve been one and done in last year’s playoffs only for Rahim Moore’s epic blunder to set them on course for a Super Bowl run. They defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a pivotal division match-up on Thanksgiving night thanks to five field goals by Justin Tucker. Last night, in an equally crucial Monday Night game, they somehow beat the Detroit Lions without scoring a single touchdown. Six more Tucker field goals was all the offense “elite” Joe Flacco and company could muster.

Maybe they should’ve given Tucker the $120 million dollar contract.

Regardless how they got it done, the Ratbirds won, putting them in the driver’s seat for the AFC’s second Wild Card spot. Thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals being the Cincinnati Bengals – with an assist from the Black and Gold, thank you very much – Baltimore also has a very realistic shot at winning the AFC North. All they have to do is win out and Cincy, who’ve lead the division practically wire to wire, will not only drop out of division lead, they very well could miss the playoffs altogether. Only the Bungles…

Yesterday, I alluded to the Steelers playoff hopes hanging by the slimmest of threads. With week 15 officially in the books, I figured I might as well spell out exactly what I mean by slim threads. For the Steelers to backdoor into the Wild Card, the following scenario must happen:

The Ravens must lose their last two games.

The Dolphins must lose their last two games.

The Chargers must lose one of their last two games.

The Jets must win their final two games.

And, of course, the Steelers must win out. If they continue to play like they did Sunday night, that part may not be that difficult. The rest of that scenario, however, is fairly remote to say the least. The Fins have the Bills and the Jets the next two weeks, both pretty lousy teams. I can see the Jets rallying to save Rex Ryan‘s job but I have a hard time imagining the Bills doing the Steelers a favor. The Bills game could very well be the key game in the entire scenario when you look at the upcoming schedules.

The Ratbirds have New England (who are fighting to overtake Denver for the #1 overall seed while holding on to the first round bye) and Cincy, two opponents who will be very motivated to win. They could very easily lose both. San Diego has Oakland this weekend but they finish up with a Kansas City team that won’t want to go into the playoffs on a down note. The Jets have Cleveland this weekend and finish up with Miami. Knowing New York, they’ll lose to the going nowhere Browns only to upset Miami.

Regardless, the dizzying array of dominoes that must fall in precise order is such that the Steelers playoff chances are extremely remote. Although they’ve been here before, remember during the Super Bowl hangover season they needed a similar amount of help and got it only to be eliminated by failing to take care of business against the Ravens. Like Big Ben said in the post-game interview, there’s not much they can do except play their games and let the chips fall where they may.

Who knows, maybe the Steelers are due for a little bit of luck themselves.


3 thoughts on “Steelers Playoff Hopes Dwindling”

  1. Looks like you got this playoff picture all figured out. Maybe you can help me out here and answer this question for me:
    The worst record the Dolphins can end up with is 8-8, which happens to be the best record the Steelers can end up with. Since Miami beat Pittsburgh, they would win the tie breaker. With Kansas or Denver securing one of the wildcard slots, how can the Steelers still be in playoff contention? Even if we leave the Ratbirds, etc., out of the picture, Miami would trump us for the second wildcard slot, no? And obviously we can’t win the AFC North. So why is there still a theoretical chance? What is wrong in my logic? Thanks!

    1. Head-to-head only counts if two or three teams are tied for the final playoff spot. When more than three teams are tied, they go to a complicated series of tiebreakers.

      The only way the Steelers make the playoffs is if ALL the stuff I laid out happens (ie: Fins lose last two, Ravens lose last two, Jets win last two, etc).

      If everything happens in that long list I posted, five teams will be tied at 8-8 (Fins, Ravens, Jets, Chargers, and Steelers). The first tie break for that many teams is division record. So the Steelers eliminate Ravens, Jets eliminate Miami. Steelers have a better AFC record than San Diego and beat NY so they’d be the second Wild Card.

      Hope this helps.

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