The Steelers stayed alive in the AFC playoff picture in Week 16 by rallying to beat the visiting Raiders 13-10 on Saturday night. A loss would have eliminated Pittsburgh from wild-card contention, but the win gave the team some hope for the final two weeks.
Here’s breaking down where the Steelers stand after improving to 7-8 and how realistic their playoff chances are:
Steelers playoff picture
The Steelers are the No. 11 team in the overall AFC standings. They are behind the No. 8 Patriots, No. 9 Jets and No. 10 Titans, who all lost in Week 16 to fall to match the Steelers’ record at 7-8.
The No. 6 Chargers (8-6) and No. 7 Dolphins (8-6), who occupy the last two wild-card spots in AFC, are up 1.5 games on the Steelers with only two games left to play.
What playoff tiebreakers are in the Steelers’ favor?
The Steelers are behind the Patriots, Jets and Titans because of a bad conference record of 3-7. Unfortunately, part of that is the fact Pittsburgh lost to New England in Week 2 and to New York in Week 4. It also lost to Miami in Week 7.
By winning the final two games, the Steelers would improve their conference record to 4-7. They just need to hope they can finish 9-8 and full game ahead of either the Dolphins or the Chargers.
Steelers’ remaining schedule
The Steelers face with a tough division road game in Baltimore in Week 17 against the strong No. 5 Ravens (10-5), who already have clinched a wild-card berth. They close with the a home game against the Browns (6-9), who were eliminated with their loss to the Saints in Week 16.
Those games are winnable, physical battles of attrition. Even if the Steelers don’t get the needed help to earn another AFC wild-card berth, going 2-0 would ensure another a non-losing season under coach Mike Tomlin.
Can the Steelers still make the playoffs?
The Steelers still have less than a one percent chance of earning an AFC wild-card berth. They need a lot to go wrong for four teams ahead of them in the final two weeks, on top of next upsetting the Ravens, who are a much better team still battling the Bengals for the AFC North title.