The Steelers will not repeat as AFC North champions in 2021. But with 7-7-1 heading into Monday night’s home game against the Browns (8:15 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN2), they still have a chance. remote from reaching the final. The AFC playoffs as a wild card team.
Pittsburgh can no longer win the division because Cincinnati (10-6) closed out that title Sunday with their big comeback over Kansas City. SN breaks down the Steelers’ only remaining path to the postseason:
NFL Playoffs Image: Steelers Playoff Opportunities
The last two playoff teams in the AFC right now are the No. 6 Colts (9-7) and the No. 7 Chargers (9-7). The No. 8 Raiders (9-7) and No. 9 Ravens (8-8) are also ahead of the Steelers.
But the Week 18 schedule has the Chargers playing for the Raiders and the Steelers playing for the Ravens. That, coupled with the fact that the Steelers have a unique record due to their tie, makes the playoff scene easier:
By beating the Browns and then the Ravens, the Steelers would improve to 9-7-1. The Browns are already out. The Ravens are in a similar situation where they need to win their last game and they need help.
The Colts could have earned a playoff spot as a wild card behind the winning AFC South Titans in Week 17, but they made things more interesting by losing to the Raiders at home. The Steelers need the Colts to stay cool and upset with the Jaguars in Week 18.
In other words, the Chargers or Raiders must lose (with the other team winning, of course) in Week 18. As long as their game doesn’t end in a draw, putting both teams at 9-7-1, the Steelers with wins. over the Browns and Ravens along with a loss to the Colts.
The Steelers can’t make the playoffs if the Chargers and Raiders are 9-7-1 with them. Why? They lost at home to the Raiders in Week 2 and lost on the road to the Chargers in Week 11. The Chargers would make the playoffs in this case.
If all three happened, the Steelers would be 9-7-1 on their own, half a game ahead of the Colts at 9-8. Either the Chargers or the Raiders would be half a game ahead of the Steelers at 10-7, and the other would also be half a game behind at 9-8.
The best the Steelers can do is the seventh seed, with the Colts eliminated and the winner of the Chargers-Raiders moving up to sixth.