The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t really control their entire fate right now when it comes to making the 2021 NFL playoffs. The Steelers are 8-7-1 after their defense sacked quarterback Baker Mayfield nine times. They currently sit in second place within the AFC North behind the division winners, the Cincinnati Bengals.
While the Bengals have locked up a playoff berth by winning the AFC North, the Steelers are still on the outside looking in. With only one game remaining, what would it take for the Steelers to make it to the postseason?
Roadmap for Steelers to make the postseason
There are currently only two playoff spots still up for grabs in the AFC. The Tennessee Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals have all won their divisions. The Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots have both at least clinched a spot in the playoffs at 10-6. The two remaining spots are currently held by the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Chargers, both at 9-7. Pittsburgh is one of three teams still in the hunt, along with the Las Vegas Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens.
It just so happens that Week 18 has Pittsburgh playing the Ravens in the season-finale. Pittsburgh must win to remain in the hunt. There is only one scenario left on the table that allows them to play in the postseason, and it’s split threeways.
First, they must win their final game against Baltimore. Secondly, the Colts have to be beaten by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lastly, the Chargers and Raiders cannot have a tie in their Week 18 matchup.
The first and third items on the checklist seem reasonable, but it’s hard to imagine the Jaguars knocking off the Colts. Still, any team can beat any team on any given Sunday.
That is the only way Pittsburgh can play past Week 18. The weirdest part of this scenario is that even if the Colts lose, the Chargers and Raiders both make the playoffs with a tie. Can we see the first double-tank in Week 18? It’s doubtful, but so are Pittsburgh’s chances to realistically make the postseason.
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We saw Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game in Week 17, and it was fulfilling, to say the least. Even if the Colts beat the Jaguars, Big Ben can at least win his last game as a Steelers player at the expense of his long-time rivals, the Ravens.