Updated Playoff Picture for the Pittsburgh Steelers Heading into Week 17

Kevin LeeCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2013

It's a small chance. but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have a shot at making the playoffs.

After an 0-4 start to the season, the Steelers have gone 5-2 in their last seven games to stay in the hunt for the final AFC wild-card spot. Everything that had to happen in Week 16 for Pittsburgh to stay in contention happened. 

The Buffalo Bills shut out the Miami Dolphins 19-0. The New York Jets defeated the Browns 24-13. And the Patriots blew out the Ravens 41-7 and ended their four-game winning streak in the process.

The Steelers did their job in Green Bay. Plenty of late-game gaffes by both teams made the game close, but Pittsburgh prevailed in the end.

The outcome of those four games were absolutely necessary for the Steelers to remain in playoff contention. The Raiders could have helped Pittsburgh's cause by beating the Chargers, but San Diego kept itself in the race for the last wild-card berth by winning 26-13.

Now, Mike Tomlin's team will need a handful of games to go its way in the final week of the regular season. 

The Steelers will have to defend their home field and defeat the Browns for the second time this season. Pittsburgh will hope Rex Ryan and the Jets can help out once again since a win in Miami is a must. Then in an AFC North matchup, the Ravens have to lose to a Bengals team that has already clinched the division. Lastly, the playoff-bound Chiefs need to beat their division rivals, the Chargers.

Not a single one of those four games can go the other way or else the Steelers would be eliminated from playoff contention. 

If they all go Pittsburgh's way, then there would be a five-way tie among 8-8 teams in the AFC. The Steelers, Ravens, Chargers, Jets and Dolphins would all possess 8-8 records. However, New York has already been mathematically eliminated from the wild-card race.

Ties would first be broken between teams that are in the same division per the NFL's tiebreaking procedures. The Steelers would eliminate the Ravens based on a better division record. And even though the Jets are already out of the playoff picture, they would take the Dolphins out of contention by the same reasoning.

This leaves Pittsburgh and San Diego as the remaining teams. The Steelers would win the tiebreaker against the Chargers through having a better conference record.

All in all, a lot has to go the Steelers' way for them to make the postseason, but a chance is still a chance, however small the probability.

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