Two weeks ago, when the Pittsburgh Steelers were 6-7, it looked like a virtual certainty that the defending Super Bowl champions wouldn’t return to the playoffs.
But now the Steelers are 8-7, and after the NFL released the official playoff scenarios today, Pittsburgh’s chances actually look pretty good.
The league office announced today that the Steelers will make the playoffs if they beat the Dolphins on Sunday and any of the following three things happen:
1. The Texans and Jets both lose or tie.
2. The Texans and Ravens both lose or tie.
3. The Jets, Ravens and Broncos all lose or tie.
The first of those three scenarios is the most likely to happen, and the biggest problem for the Steelers is that they don’t know whether the Texans’ and Jets’ opponents — the Patriots and Bengals — will be trying to win on Sunday. As Mike Florio noted in the Week 16 Morning Aftermath, the Bengals have a dilemma on their hands heading into Week 17.
If they’re trying to win, the Patriots would likely be favored to win at Houston and the Bengals might be favored to win at New York. But since the Patriots and Bengals have both clinched their divisions, they might decide to rest key players on Sunday and have them healthy for the first round of the playoffs a week later.
So, if you’re a Steelers fan, you need to root for your team to beat the Dolphins. And you need to root for Bill Belichick and Marvin Lewis to go for a win.