Pittsburgh Steelers Face Dire Circumstances in AFC Playoff Race

By Jeff Hartman
Pittsburgh Steelers
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After the horrendous Thanksgiving night debacle where the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the arch rival Baltimore Ravens, most Steelers fans have put up the white flag and surrendered the season. However, there is still a sliver of hope for a playoff berth for the eternal optimists.

As Sunday’s NFL action wrapped up, the Steelers certainly got help in a variety of ways. They were hoping that most of the 5-6 teams would lose to drop down to join the Steelers at 5-7. This would have helped even out the playing field, as well as give the Steelers a tiny bit of control over their own destiny.

As the New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers all lost yesterday, that meant the Steelers’ playoff hopes were still alive.

There are two teams that are now ahead of the Steelers for the sixth and final playoff spot with four games remaining. The Ravens and the Miami Dolphins both find themselves 6-6 with the Ravens in the sixth spot due to their head-to-head victory over the Dolphins.

The only positive out of this situation for the Steelers is that they face the Dolphins at Heinz Field next week. If the Steelers can win that game, they will be tied at 6-7 with the Dolphins and would move ahead due to the head-to-head victory. Still, all of this is null and void unless the Ravens slip out of that sixth playoff spot. More importantly, the Steelers can’t lose again.

The Steelers remaining four games are: vs. Dolphins, vs. Cincinnati Bengals, at Green Bay Packers, and vs. Cleveland Browns. The Baltimore Ravens final four games are: vs. Minnesota Vikings, at Detroit Lions, vs. New England Patriots, and at Bengals. Neither team is a lock to run the table, but the Steelers have the more favorable schedule of the two teams.

Steelers fans that talk about the playoff picture have to keep one very realistic thought in mind. The Steelers cannot lose again and expect to make the playoffs. 9-7 could certainly get you in, but the Steelers’ margin of error is now a paper thin.

Can this Pittsburgh Steelers team run the table and waltz into the playoffs? As inconsistent as they play, it seems unlikely; but then again, crazier things have happened.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and   also  contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz

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