How Do The Steelers Make The Playoffs?

Really good breakdown by the Trib's Alan Robinson: [Tribune Review]

So right now, the Steelers are 6-8. They have to win out to be 8-8. The 8-6 Ravens have to lose out to finish 8-8. The 8-6 Dolphins have to lose out to finish 8-8. The 7-7 Chargers have to lose one of their last two games to finish 8-8 (7-9 if they lose both). The 6-8 Jets have to win out and finish 8-8. (The Dolphins and Jets play each other in Miami in Week 17)

The need for the Jets to win out is curious, but that's because the Jets are the only team that can eliminate the Dolphins. The Dolphins beat the Steelers, therefore they hold the tiebreaker over them. The key here is that tiebreakers are applied to each division first to determine a division winner. Now, the Patriots are probably going to win the AFC East without much of a fuss, but the tiebreaker then goes to determine who finished 2nd and 3rd between the Dolphins and Jets. The Jets would have the better record within their division, and therefore finish higher than Miami, who would then be eliminated from postseason contention.

Similarly, the Steelers would eliminate the Ravens in this scenario, leaving the Steelers, Jets, and Chargers (if they win one more game). The Steelers got their first win of the season against the Jets, so they own the tiebreakers that would eliminate the Jets. The Chargers, if they win their last two games, still would have a weaker conference record than the Steelers, which would eliminate them. The Steelers would be the last team standing, and would make the playoffs as the AFC's sixth seed.

So let's recap: with two weeks remaining, the Steelers need:
-Two more victories
-Two Ravens losses
-Two Dolphins losses
-Two Jets wins
-One Chargers loss
-A partridge in a pear tree

Tune in to Red Zone on Sunday, there's a lot of action to follow.

About Brian Schaich

Brian studied computer engineering long enough to know he just wanted to talk about sports all day for a living, so that's what he does.