AFC playoff picture: Steelers get what they need

AP

No AFC team waited longer for its bye than Pittsburgh, which finally gets a week off after a 27-24 comeback win at Tennessee on Monday night.

And could the Steelers ever use the rest.

The Steelers were down four defensive starters against the Titans, with safety Troy Polamalu, inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, nose tackle Steve McLendon and cornerback Ike Taylor all sitting out with injuries. (Another defensive starter, Jarvis Jones, remains on injured reserve/designated for return.)

Still, the Steelers were eventually able to shake off 2-8 Tennessee, which held a 24-13 lead entering the fourth quarter. The offense, led by tailback Le’Veon Bell, kicked it in, and the defense limited the Titans to just 20 yards on seven plays in the final 15 minutes.

Now, the Steelers, winners of four of their last five, can take a deep breath before the final five games, two of which are against AFC North leader Cincinnati. A Week 16 matchup with 7-3 Kansas City also looms.

The Steelers, for their part, are currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC. That, of course, is subject to change, pending the results of the Week 12 slate.

And if the Steelers choose to sleep right through it, they can be forgiven.

Here is an up-to-date look at the AFC playoff picture after 11 weeks. The league’s conference standings and tiebreaking rules were cited:

THE BIG SIX

1. New England Patriots (8-2, .800). AFC East leader. Earns first-round bye, home-field advantage.

2. Denver Broncos (7-3, .700). AFC West leader. Earns first-round bye. Holds head-to-head tiebreaker over Chiefs thanks to Week Two win in Denver. The teams meet again November 30th in Kansas City on NBC.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1, .650). AFC North leader. Host Steelers in wild-card game.

4. Indianapolis Colts (6-4, .600). AFC South leader. Host Chiefs in wild-card game.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3, .700). Wild card No. 1.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, .636). Wild card No. 2.

JUST MISSING

7. Miami Dolphins (6-4, .600). Hold No. 7 seed on basis of superior AFC record (5-2) to Chargers (5-3) and Ravens (3-4).

8. San Diego Chargers (6-4, .600).

9. Baltimore Ravens (6-4, .600). Seeded ahead of Cleveland on basis of head-to-head win in Week Three. The teams meet again in Baltimore on December 28.

10. Cleveland Browns. (6-4, .600).

11. Houston Texans (5-5, .500). Seeded ahead of the Bills on basis of Week Four victory over Buffalo.

12. Buffalo Bills (5-5, .500).

16 responses to “AFC playoff picture: Steelers get what they need

  1. Steelers are banged up and not playing well heading into their bye week.

    Still, only 2 teams in the NFL have more wins right now.

  2. They should have added another playoff team this year. With what’s gonna be coming out of the NFC and AFC south the 3rd wild card team would have been clearly better, Pitt, Miami, SF or Seattle.

  3. I’m glad you guys used common sense and waited until everyone had at least ten games under their belts before doing this. Other sites seem to do this around week five. It gets annoying.

  4. I hate to say this, but the team to beat in the AFC is New England. Denver is a one dimensional with no chances to make a push in the AFC, and all the other teams are inconsistent.

  5. Now comes the time when you look back an say…man, we got those games against the Packers and Lions. We need to be strong throughout the entire game. Not only on the 2nd half.

    We still have time. Go Dolphins!

  6. Interested how this shakes out.

    KC and SD play each other again, and each plays Denver once more. SD also plays Baltimore, and KC plays Pitt

    Houston plays Cinci & Baltimore still.

    Pitt plays Cinci twice, and the Chiefs.

    Cleve plays Cinci, Baltimore & Buffalo

    Buffalo plays Cleveland

    Miami plays Baltimore.

    All teams will go through each other- and as such- even the 5-5 teams on this list cannot yet be counted out.

  7. Steelers got more than enough when the league decided to put Bal, Cle, and Cin in their division. I almost feel guilty.

  8. Purely from a Fan perspective (no matter where my Browns finish) this has been an AWESOME NFL season. Surprises every week ….can’t wait to check all the scores to see who’s upset whom. Nobody is safe (haters, pile on now) and ALL teams are potentially vulnerable week-to-week. That said, there’s a little separation forming at the top….. could be that the usual suspects meet once again when all is said & done. In a strange season, it’s great to be a fan.

  9. If the season ended just like this and the division winners won on Wildcard weekend, then the remaining potential opponents for the Patriots would be Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Denver, all teams they have trashed this season. Gotta love that scenario Pats fans!

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