All things considered, the day couldn’t have gone a whole lot better for the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Baltimore Ravens continued their winning ways, now with nine victories in a row and a commanding three-game lead on the AFC North with four games to play, pretty much everything else lined up for them.
The Steelers entered the day as one of four teams with a 6-5 record, which was the line of record in-line for the second and final wildcard spot in the American Football Conference. Two of those teams—the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts—played each other, so it was inevitable that one would lose.
The Titans ended up storming back for the win over the Colts. While the Steelers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Indianapolis, Tennessee also has a worse conference record, which is the second tiebreaker, so at least for the time being, it didn’t really matter who won that game.
And the Titans still have to play the Houston Texans twice, plus the New Orleans Saints.
Significantly, they also play the Oakland Raiders next week. The Raiders happened to be the other team who entered today’s game with a 6-5 record. The Steelers got help on that front as well, with the Kansas City Chiefs knocking them out at home. They jumped out to a 21-0 lead by halftime, which proved to be insurmountable.
So now, with four games to play, Pittsburgh is sitting at 7-5 in a two-way tie for the second wildcard spot, and owning the head-to-head tiebreaker against an opponent who has four significant games remaining on their schedule, two of them on the road.
I would take those odds. Of course, the Steelers have to handle their own business. They still have two tough games themselves, facing the Buffalo Bills and the Ravens, the latter in Week 17 on the road. Their best hope there is that Baltimore has nothing to play for.
Three of their four remaining games are on the road, including their next one, when they face the 3-8-1 Arizona Cardinals, who just lost to the Los Angeles Rams. In between the Bills at home and Ravens games that follow, they viist Le’Veon Bell and the New York Jets, who just handed the Cincinnati Bengals their only win of the season.
Entering today’s games in a four-way tie, the Steelers now stand as one of two teams with a 7-5 record, which was their best possible outcome, short of two of those teams finishing in a tie. So all in all, there is certainly not much to complain about. Their own fate continues to rest in their hands, and the path to securing that fate got a bit easier along the way.