The Steelers will not repeat as AFC North champions in 2021. But with an 8-7-1 record going into Week 19 of the 2021 NFL season, they still have a long shot of reaching the AFC playoffs. as a wild card team.
Pittsburgh can no longer win the division because Cincinnati (10-6) secured that title in Week 17 with their big comeback win over Kansas City. SN breaks down the Steelers’ only remaining path to the postseason:
NFL WEEK 18 PICKINGS:
Image of the Steelers playoffs for week 18
The last two playoff teams in the AFC to enter Week 18 are the No. 6 Colts (9-7) and the No. 7 Chargers (9-7). The No. 8 Raiders (9-7) are also ahead of the Steelers. The No. 10 Ravens (8-8) are right behind.
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 their playoff scenario easy:
By beating the Ravens, the Steelers would improve to 9-7-1. The Ravens are in a similar situation of needing to win their final game and they need help.
The Colts could have earned a playoff spot as a wild card behind the Titans, winners of the AFC South in Week 17, but they made things more interesting by losing to the Raiders at home. The Steelers need the Colts to stay cold and upset with the Jaguars in Week 18.
In other words, either the Chargers or the 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 will be victorious. 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. The Chargers or Raiders would be half a game ahead of the Steelers at 10-7, and the other team would be half a game behind at 9-8.
The best the Steelers can do is the No. 7 seed, with the Colts eliminated and the Chargers-Raiders winner moving up to No. 6.