After the Steelers fourth loss of the season, no one in Pittsburgh thought the playoffs were in the Steelers future. Now, at 5-6, the Steelers have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, as they are the 7th seed right now. With only five games left on the docket, each game is crucial for all teams in the playoff hunt (Sorry Jaguars/Texans fans.) What kind of help do the Steelers need? For the most part they control their own destiny, but to further enhance their chances of making the playoffs, it won’t hurt to have certain teams lose. I will be taking a look at all of the games in the AFC, and who Steelers fans should be cheering for in each week 13 matchup.
Oakland Raiders Vs. Dallas Cowboys
At 4-7, the Raider’s playoffs hopes are hanging by threads, but if the chips fall in favor of the Raiders, they could still play in January. The chances of this? Not great, but another loss will make it extremely difficult to make the playoffs, so as much as it may pain you Steeler Nation, it is in your best interest to cheer for the Dallas Cowboys.
Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Baltimore Ravens
If you aren’t cheering for the away team here, then this article does not apply to you. This may be the Steelers most crucial game this season, and if they loose, at 5-7, the Steelers chances of making the playoffs will become extremely small. While a loss would not send them into their sweet goodnight, they would be forced to rely on other teams losing in order for them to have a shot at the Lombardi.
Tennessee Titans Vs. Indianapolis Colts
If the season ended today, the Tennessee Titans would be in possession of the 6th and final seed in the AFC. The Steelers with the 7th seed need the Titans to lose as many games as possible since the Steelers lost to the Titans in week 1. With the same record, as well as the same conference record, the Titans will continue to stay atop the Steelers if both teams win this week. Right now, the Titans are one team the Steelers can’t afford to “tie” with since they were unable to take down their cross-division rival. Hopefully, this loss will not come back to bite the Steelers. It is in the Steelers best interest for the Titans to lose come Sunday. Let’s go Colts!
Jacksonville Jaguars Vs. Cleveland Br0wns
Much like the Raiders, the Browns are on the brink of removing themselves from playoff contention. At 4-7, a loss to the Jaguars on Sunday would be devastating to their playoff hopes. But, in my mind the Browns playoff hopes disappeared when Brian Hoyer was lost for the season. The Browns QB situation got even worse when Jason Cambell was injured against the Steelers, bringing back into the lineup, draft-bust, Brandon Weeden. At 2-9, the Jaguars are of no threat to the Steelers, so a win by the Jaguars is in the Steelers best interest.
New England Patriots Vs. Houston Texans
In this game, you have teams from both sides of the spectrum. The Patriots, at 8-3, are looking to make a deep playoff run, and they appear like they very well could. The Texans on the other hand are 2-9, and their players have all but quit on the season. This should be a fairly easy win for the Patriots, but maybe the Texans could make it a bit interesting. Realistically, with 3 mediocre teams in the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets in their division, the Patriots have the division locked down, so what they do for the rest of the season won’t really concern the Steelers and the 6th spot. But, if you are like myself, you aren’t the biggest fan of the Patriots, so it will not pain me whatsoever to cheer for the Texans.
Miami Dolphins Vs. New York Jets
Both of these teams have a 5-6 record, but with poor conference records, they are deeper down on the totem pole with the 10th and 11th seeds. This is one of those games where you wouldn’t mind a meteor falling down from space and landing on Met Life Stadium since a win by either of these teams does not help the Steelers. But, in the long run, much like the Browns, I don’t see the Jets going anywhere if Geno Smith continues with his awful quarterback play. Because the Dolphins present more of a threat (which isn’t that big of one) Steelers fans should be heard chanting J-E-T-S come Sunday afternoon.
Atlanta Falcons Vs. Buffalo Bills
It is in the Steelers best interest for as many AFC teams to lose as possible, so it’s pretty easy to decide who Steelers fans should cheer for. If the Falcons beat the Bills on Sunday, it will all but send the Bills into their sweet goodnight. At 4-7 with a 3-6 conference record, the Bills already have an uphill battle, but with a game against the Patriots, losing to the Falcons would put them at 4-8 and an expected loss against the Patriots, at best they would be 7-9, which I can almost guarantee will not get a team a spot in the playoffs. In order for one less team to be out of the running for the playoffs, Steelers fans will be cheering on Falcons fans to put the nails in the Bills almost sealed coffin.
Cincinatti Bengals Vs. San Diego Chargers
Quite honestly, this may be the toughest decision regarding who to cheer for. The Bengals are 7-4, and if they lose Sunday, and the Steelers win Thursday, the Steelers will be only one game behind the Bengals for the division lead. With a week 15 matchup against the Bengals, the Steelers could take the division with a win since they would have the better division record. Of course, this is no easy task, but it very well could be done with Cincinnati losing top defenders in Geno Atkins and Leon Hall, as well as the poor play of Andy Dalton as of late.
On the flip side, if the chargers lose, they fall to 5-7, and their chances of making the playoffs diminish, as they would add another loss to their 3-5 record in the conference. If the Chargers were to lose, it would make the Steelers path even easier to the playoffs.
If you believe the Steelers could win out, then you will be cheering for San Diego, but if you are like many that believe a wild card seed is more likely, you will be cheering for the Bengals. This is a big toss-up Steeler Nation, but if I have to cheer for one team, I will be cheering for Cincinnati since I am still not totally convinced this team could make a playoff run.
Denver Broncos Vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Really, this game does not have much influence on the Steelers even though these are two AFC teams. Unless there is some unforeseen circumstance, both of these teams will be making the playoffs. Since they are in the same division, one of the two teams will win the division while the other will take the 5th wild card spot. So sit back, relax, and just cheer on the team you don’t mind seeing win, because this game really won’t affect the Steelers playoff hopes.
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