The Pittsburgh Steelers took care of the St. Louis Rams today at Heinz Field, but only received some possible future help in week 16 from the Indianapolis Colts Thursday night as they knocked off the Houston Texans with a last second touchdown.
Heading into today, the Steelers needed to beat the Rams and hope that the Cleveland Browns could some how knock off the Baltimore Ravens to take the lead in the AFC North division. The Ravens held a 20-0 lead over the Browns, but let them back into the game in the 4th quarter. The Browns closed within 6 points with 8:30 left in the game, but they could not complete the comeback and the Ravens won 20-14.
The New England Patriots also received a scare on Sunday as they fell behind the Miami Dolphins 17-0 in the first half. The Dolphins could not close the deal though and the Patriots came from behind to win 27-24. The win clinched a first round bye for the Patriots and they will be either the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC depending on what takes place in week 17.
The Cincinnati Bengals strengthened their chance to make the playoff as a wild card on Saturday as they beat the Arizona Cardinals 23-16. That win combined with the New York Jets 29-14 loss to the New York Giants, means that the Bengals are in the playoffs if they win next week at home against the Ravens. The Jets need quite a bit to happen next week, including a Bengals loss, to make the playoffs as a wildcard team.
The Steelers of course need the Bengals to beat the Ravens, and it is not out of the question of happening, as the Ravens will go into the game next week extremely beat up. Not only did they lose wide receiver Anquan Boldin for the rest of the regular season with a torn meniscus early in the week, but starting right guard Marshal Yanda left the game Saturday with bruised ribs. Also injured for the Ravens on Saturday were starting cornerback Cary Williams, inside linebacker Jameel McClain, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and wide receiver David Reed.
Reed was the most seriously injured of the bunch as he will be lost for the season with what is believed to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Williams and Ellerbe both suffered concussions, while McClain left with a shoulder stinger. With Boldin and Reed now out next week, the Ravens are down to rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss to go along with Lee Evans and LaQuan Williams.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed just 11 of 24 passes Saturday against the Browns for 132 yards and running back Ray Rice led all Ravens pass catchers with 3 receptions for 48 yards in the win.
The #1 seed is also not out of the question for the Steelers either. Should the Patriots lose at home to the Buffalo Bills next week, and the Steelers win the AFC North, the Steelers will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs as they own the tie breakers over the Patriots due to beating them back in week 8. The Steelers can only finish as the 5th, 2nd or 1st seed in the AFC. Those are your week 17 playoff scenarios for the Steelers.
To add more dram to the big games next week, the Steelers game in Cleveland has been moved to a 4:15 pm kickoff to accommodate CBS. The Ravens Bengals also will now be a 4:15 pm kickoff.