The (6-4) Pittsburgh Steelers return from their much-needed bye on Sunday to play the (5-5) Seattle Seahawks on the road. While it certainly isn’t a must-win game for the Steelers, a loss certainly will make things tougher on them when it comes to landing a Wild Card spot. With the Steelers playing later in the afternoon on this Sunday, we can all do quite a bit of scoreboard watching prior to kickoff so here is your fan rooting interest guide for Week 12 as it relates to the AFC playoff race.
New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans 1:00 PM ET
Where did the Texans come from? All of a sudden they are 5-5 and the No. 7 seed in the AFC. If the Texans and Chiefs both win on Sunday and the Steelers lose to the Seahawks, both teams would jump Pittsburgh in the seeding. In other words, all of you should probably be pulling for the Saints to upset the Texans Sunday on the road.
St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 PM ET
No new news here. The Steelers need the Bengals to lose at least three more games if they’re going to overtake them for the AFC North crown. The Bengals have now lost two straight and we’ll get to see how they handle that explosive Rams defensive line on Sunday. Hey, the Texans beat the Bengals a few weeks ago, so while unlikely, it’s not unthinkable that the Rams can pull off an upset of Cincinnati as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts 1:00 PM ET
Matt Hassebeck versus Jameis Winson? The Colts are in quite a dogfight right now with the Texans as both teams enter Week 12 with 5-5 records. If the Colts win Sunday, they will remain the leaders of the AFC South. However, if they lose, and the Texans beat the Saints, the Colts will likely be outside of the playoff picture and looking in heading into Week 13. Just to be on the safe side, pull for the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 PM ET
This might be a loser leaves the playoff race game. Ok, not really, because we still will have five weeks left, but rest assured, the Bills will be in a tough place if they lose to the Chiefs on Sunday. A Chiefs win, however, will really put them in a great spot in the Wild Card race as they’ve already beaten both the Texans and Steelers this season. Personally, I’d like to see the Bills beat the Chiefs on Sunday so the Steelers will stay ahead of them in the playoff race even if they lose to the Seahawks.
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans 1:00 PM ET
While The Raiders aren’t necessarily an immediate threat to Pittsburgh due to the Steelers beating them in their head-to-head matchup a few weeks ago, them losing Sunday to the Titans would mean they would probably need to run the table during the final five weeks in order to make the playoffs. In other words, the Raiders can be eliminated from the Steelers worries with a loss on Sunday.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets 1:00 PM ET
The Jets, much like the Bills, really are in a tough spot heading into Week 12 as it relates to the Wild Card race. New York has already lost games to the Raiders, Texans and Bills and another loss to the Dolphins on Sunday would mean they would need to run the table during the final five weeks and pray for help along the way in order to make the playoffs as one of the two Wild Card teams. As for the Dolphins, they already need to close out the season with nothing but wins if they want to make the playoffs. Pull for Miami today to get the road win.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos 8:30 PM ET
While this game really has no real bearing on the Steelers playoff chances, it could make a difference once the tournament gets underway. The Steelers easiest path to the Super Bowl this year might include a trip to Denver or Cincinnati, so if Pittsburgh makes it as the No. 5 seed, odds are good they would need to play the No. 1 seed in the Divisional Round. Being as the Patriots are now the No. 1 seed, it wouldn’t hurt to see the Broncos hand them their first loss on Sunday with the hopes that a few more follow.