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Pittsburgh Steelers Need Help in Week 17 to Make Playoffs

It's not as simple as "win and your in" for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17. Win or lose, Pittsburgh will need help to reach the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Despite multiple setbacks this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers controlled their own destiny entering East Rutherford, NJ this Sunday. Win their last two games, and they would be in the playoffs as a wild-card. However, Pittsburgh fell to the New York Jets 16-10 in disappointing fashion. Not only did they lose control of their playoff hopes, but they also lost more players to injury. James Conner, Maurkice Pouncey, and Mason Rudolph all left the game. Even with lingering injury and quarterback issues, Pittsburgh is still in the hunt.

To reach the playoffs as the sixth seed in the AFC, one of multiple (and increasingly complicated) scenarios must occur. These can be broken down, from simple to “fourth tiebreaker” complicated.

The first thing that has to happen for the Steelers to make the playoffs is a Tennessee Titans loss. After Pittsburgh’s week 16 loss, Tennessee moved ahead of them thanks to a better strength of victory. Win, and the Titans will be the sixth seed in the AFC, eliminating the Steelers and Oakland Raiders.

Tennessee will be in Houston, taking on the Texans at 4:25 p.m. EST. The Titans are 3.5 point Vegas favorites heading into their Week 17 matchup. That is because if the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angles Chargers at 1 p.m., they will lock up the third seed. That will lock Houston into the fourth, taking away any incentive for Houston to win in Week 17. However, if the Houston backups get the job done, the window is still open for Pittsburgh.

After a potential Tennessee loss, things get interesting and complicated quickly. With a win in Baltimore at 4:25 p.m., Pittsburgh would claim the sixth seed. Pittsburgh is a 2.5 point betting favorite, as Baltimore has already locked up the number one seed in the AFC. Baltimore will be playing backups, but then again, so will Pittsburgh.

With a Pittsburgh loss, Tennessee can still get in with a Colts loss, thanks to the fourth tiebreaker, strength of victory. However, if the Colts win at 4:25 p.m. in Jacksonville, Tennessee is eliminated. Indianapolis is a 4.5 point favorite over the Jaguars, as their season is over, and they aren’t that good anyway. (Once again I say…) However, a Colts win doesn’t necessarily clinch things for Pittsburgh.

With losses from Tennessee and Pittsburgh and a Colts win, the Oakland Raiders are still alive. Hanging by a thread, Oakland needs a win in Denver at 4:25 p.m. to stay alive. The Broncos are 3.5 point favorites, but Oakland will be scoreboard watching. If Oakland can find a way to win, they still need a combination of outcomes to get over Pittsburgh in the strength of victory tiebreaker.

Oakland needs a win from either Chicago, Detroit, the Chargers or New England. All four play at 1 p.m., with Chicago and New England picked by Vegas as favorites. If all four lose, Pittsburgh will get the sixth seed.

While severely complicated scenarios do exist, as shown above, Pittsburgh needs focus. All they control now is their game. If Pittsburgh beats Baltimore, they just need a Titans loss. Pittsburgh doesn’t want to be relying on Indianapolis, or half of the league, to back them into the playoffs. While Baltimore will still be a challenge even without some starters, this team needs to find a way to get it done. The path to the playoffs is complicated, but this season has been too.

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