The Pittsburgh Steelers, riding a six-game winning streak at the time, entered Week 12 having put themselves in a position that would give them control over whether or not they were capable of securing one of the top two seeds in the AFC playoff picture.
Their defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos, and the subsequent victories by the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, and Houston Texans greatly complicated things for them, however, and they dropped from being in position for the second seed to being slotted all the way at the fourth seed as the division leader with the worst record at 7-3-1.
The Steelers posted a 13-3 record last season, which was one of the best records the team has ever had in franchise history, and it was enough to earn them the second seed in the AFC playoffs and their first bye week in the postseason since they were also the second seed during the 2010 postseason. Back then, they were able to reach the Super Bowl, but lost. In 2017, they were bounced by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round.
Still, that doesn’t make the bye week any less desirable a prize, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger discussed yesterday during his media availability session following Wednesday’s practice (during which he, of course, did not participate).
“The first two seeds are important to get that bye, but it also doesn’t guarantee that it gets you to the championship game”, he said. “We’ve done it from all the different seeds. So just getting in is the most important, but getting one of those first two byes are a big deal. But there’s still a handful of games left, so we’ve still got a lot of games in front of us to take care of first”.
If the Steelers are to gain the second seed back now, however, they are going to need help to do it, and that would be specifically from the Texans, who are now 8-3 on the season and riding an 8-3 winning streak after they dropped the first three games of the season.
Their next two games on their schedule are at home against the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts, both of which have been teams on the rise in recent weeks. They finish off with two road games against the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles before returning him to host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The reason the Steelers don’t need help from the Patriots is, of course, because they can help themselves. If Pittsburgh is able to defeat them when they host New England in three weeks, assuming that the two teams retain their current margin, they will put themselves in position to have the better overall record.