The Steelers are currently the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture, and they’re right on the playoff bubble: Win at least two of their remaining three games and they’re in. Lose two and they’re probably out. Given that two of their final three opponents — the Bills and Ravens — have better records than the Steelers, it doesn’t look like an easy path to the postseason.
But Pittsburgh may catch a big break when it heads to Baltimore in Week 17.
That’s because the Ravens now have an excellent chance of clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs before Week 17. If that’s what happens, the Ravens would likely sit Lamar Jackson and other key players in the final game of the season, giving the Steelers a much easier path to the playoffs.
The Ravens get the Jets and Browns in their next two games, so it’s likely that they’ll win both games and have home-field advantage wrapped up before Week 17.
The last time the Ravens were locked into their playoff position before Week 17 was in 2012. That year, Ravens coach John Harbaugh only gave starting quarterback Joe Flacco two series before pulling him in a meaningless loss to the Bengals. The Ravens ended up winning the Super Bowl that postseason, so it seems highly likely that Harbaugh would want to follow the same path if faced with a similar set of circumstances.
So don’t be surprised if the Steelers face off not with Lamar Jackson but with Robert Griffin III in Week 17. And don’t be surprised if the Steelers win, and punch their ticket to the playoffs.