Actually, things are in much better shape than anyone could have imagined a week ago. Thanks to a few shocking upsets (Oakland over Denver) and some other teams taking care of business (Indy over Jacksonville), here is the current playoff picture.
5. Baltimore (8-6, 6-4)
6. Denver (8-6, 6-5)
7t. Jacksonville (7-7, 6-4)
7t. Miami (7-7, 5-5)
7t. NY Jets (7-7, 5-5)
7t. Pittsburgh (7-7, 4-6)
7t. Houston (7-7, 4-6)
7t. Tennessee (7-7, 4-7)
With two games to play and eight teams fighting for two playoff spots, it seems like a recipe for disaster. However, the picture gets a little clearer when we look at next week's games.
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
Jacksonville @ New England
Houston @ Miami
NY Jets @ Indianapolis
San Diego @ Tennessee
Denver @ Philadelphia
So what do the Steelers need to happen to make the playoffs? First and foremost, they need to take care of business against Baltimore and Miami. If we lose one of those, we are out.
We hold head-to-head tiebreakers against Tennessee and Denver, the latter of which will come in handy. In order to finish the season even with Denver, we need the Broncos to lose one game.
Jacksonville, Miami, and the Jets all have better conference records than us, so we need them to lose as well. However, since we also need to win out, we are assuming we will beat Miami in Week 17, it doesn't matter what they do next week. Actually, it would be preferable if they beat Houston and knock them out.
So there are five teams that we need to lose at least once in order for us to make the playoffs. That sounds like a bit much to ask until you look at how things shake down.
- We play both Baltimore and Miami
- Denver is reeling after a loss to Oakland and has to travel to Philadelphia this weekend to play a hot Eagles team that has won 5 in a row.
- Jacksonville plays at New England this week. New England is 7-0 at home and needs a win to clinch the division title.
- The Jets travel to Indianapolis to face the undefeated Colts.
Here's the kicker:
IF we beat Baltimore, Philly beats Denver, New England beats the Jags, the Colts beat the Jets, AND Miami beats Houston...
WE CONTROL OUR OWN DESTINY IN WEEK 17 AGAINST MIAMI.
Let me say that again.
If Philly, New England, Indy and Miami win (in addition to us beating Baltimore), we will have a win-and-get-in game against Miami on January 3.
Did anyone think two days ago that we could be, after next week, back in control of our own destiny?
All of a sudden, what looked to be an impossible feat might just be possible.