The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 16 in control of their own playoff destiny. However, after losing Sunday afternoon on the road to the New York Jets, the Steelers now no longer have full control regarding their playoff chances.
The Steelers 16-10 loss to the Jets, combined with how a few other Week 16 games transpired through Sunday afternoon, now sets up three scenarios for Pittsburgh to make the playoffs and all three revolve around them needing one or more other Week 17 games to go their way.
The easiest way for the Steelers to make the playoffs in Week 17 is for them to beat the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday and for the Tennessee Titans to lose to the Houston Texans.
The Ravens clinched home field advantage in the AFC throughout the playoffs on Sunday by beating the Cleveland Browns so next week when they host the Steelers they won’t have anything to play for and thus they’re sure to rest as many key starters as they can.
As for the Titans game against the Texans next Sunday, it will be interesting to see how Houston treats that contest. The Texans secured the AFC South title on Saturday so they’re now guaranteed to be either the third or fourth seed in the AFC. Will the Texans have interest in attempting to capture or retain the No. 3 seed next Sunday? Will it be worth it for them to play their starters against the Titans?
“I think anytime we play, we play to win, so that’s how I’ll answer that question,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said after Saturdays game when asked if his team will go all out next Sunday against the Titans if thers a chance to get the No. 3 overall seed in the AFC. “We try to play to win.”
So, what if the Steelers and Titans both lose next Sunday, can Pittsburgh Still get the No. 6 seed in the AFC? Yes, however, it will take a small laundry list of other games going their way to do so.
Assuming both the Steelers and Titans lose next Sunday, Pittsburgh will be the No. 6 seed in the AFC if the Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Oakland Raiders do the opposite of what they did in Week 16 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Also should the Steelers and Titans lose next Sunday, Pittsburgh can still capture the No. 6 seed in the AFC should the Colts beat the Jaguars, and Pittsburgh at least ties the Raiders in overall strength of victory should Oakland win in Week 16 and Week 17.
After Sunday’s loss to the Jets, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked what its like now for the team to be in the same position as they were last year in Week 17 in regard to needing some help to make the playoffs.
“You know, I don’t worry about all of those things cumulatively compared to other years,” Tomlin said. “It’s this group, this journey and where we are right now.”
Where they are right now is needing to beat the Ravens next Sunday and needing the Texans to beat the Titans that same day.