AFC Wild Card Scenerio Shaping Up To Be 3 Team Race With 5 Weeks Remaining

The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly didn\’t help themselves out Sunday by losing 20-14 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but they still remain very much alive in the AFC Playoff race when you look at the scenarios.

Loses by New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and the San Diego Chargers in Week 12 all but killed those teams chances of making the playoffs as each now has 7 losses with 5 games remaining in the season. While not guaranteed, it is highly unlikely that any of the four run the table to finish 9-7.

Wins by the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and the Miami Dolphins in Week 12 now means that there are four teams battling for two Wild Card spots in the AFC with 5 weeks remaining, when you include the 6-5 Steelers.

The Dolphins can only really afford one more loss the rest of the way, but their schedule includes two games against the New England Patriots and one against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Bengals are indeed playing really well right now but their remaining schedule includes games against the Chargers, Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and the Baltimore Ravens, and the odds of them running the table are very low. Not impossible mind you, just low.

That leaves the Colts, who are also playing inspired football right now and currently have a one game lead over both the Steelers and the Bengals heading into Week 13.They still have two games remaining against the Houston Texans in addition to having to play the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Titans.

The Steelers of course do not have an easy path considering their beat up roster at the moment and it doesn\’t help that they have to play the Ravens next week in Baltimore. After that they face the Chargers, Cowboys, Bengals, and the Browns to end the regular season. Assuming they lose to the Ravens next week, they would likely need to win 3 of their remaining 5 games with one of those wins being over the Bengals at Heinz Field in Week 16.

So much can happen over the next few weeks and the Steelers need to get quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back as soon as possible in order to make this happen. Their defense is playing more than well enough to run the table, but they cant do it all by themselves.

Colts (7-4) Remaining Schedule
WkDateGameStadiumTime (ET)
13Dec 02IND @ DETFord Field1:00 PM
14Dec 09TEN @ INDLucas Oil Stadium1:00 PM
15Dec 16IND @ HOUReliant Stadium1:00 PM
16Dec 23IND @ KCArrowhead Stadium1:00 PM
17Dec 30HOU @ INDLucas Oil Stadium1:00 PM
Steelers (6-5) Remaining Schedule
WkDateGameStadiumTime (ET)
13Dec 02PIT @ BALM&T Bank Stadium4:25 PM
14Dec 09SD @ PITHeinz Field1:00 PM
15Dec 16PIT @ DALCowboys Stadium4:25 PM
16Dec 23CIN @ PITHeinz Field1:00 PM
17Dec 30CLE @ PITHeinz Field1:00 PM
Bengals (6-5) Remaining Schedule
WkDateGameStadiumTime (ET)
13Dec 02CIN @ SDQualcomm Stadium4:25 PM
14Dec 09DAL @ CINPaul Brown Stadium1:00 PM
15Dec 13CIN @ PHILincoln Financial Field8:20 PM
16Dec 23CIN @ PITHeinz Field1:00 PM
17Dec 30BAL @ CINPaul Brown Stadium1:00 PM

  • Mac

    I would guess the season will come down to the Bengals game – if they win that at home, they will have the tiebreaker and that is big. Hard to see the Bengals winning six in a row going into the Steelers game, so if the Steelers beat them, they almost guarantee themselves one of the last two spots (unless they lose all of the other games).

  • JT

    I think the Colts have set themselves up nicely for one of the spots. Despite how the Texans have been playing, they’ll sweep the Colts. That means as long as they can beat a floundering Lions bunch and don’t give up easy ones against KC and TEN, they’ll be sitting at 10-6 with one of the wildcard spots.

    The Bengals and Steelers are clawing for spot #2. Phins go 0-3 against Pats and Niners. They’re out with 9 loses. Out of Cincy, Pitt, Car, and Oak, the Chargers lose at least 1, and if they lose two they’re out with 8 loses.

    That leaves two HUGE games left on the Steelers schedule. Home games against SD and CIN will define this season. Win those, and you’re 8-5 with tiebreakers over the two biggest opponents left in the Wildcard Race. Pick up one win against BAL, DAL, and CLE and you likely squeeze your way in. Two out of three there should be good enough to do it.

    The lingering question though, is if racking up wins at the end of the season to fight for a road playoff spot good for this team? Do we trust them on the road? Is a higher draft pick for a SS, OLB, or CB better for this team’s future?

  • Reader783

    If we get healthy, we can make a run. Just need to get hot at the right time. Cincy, SD, Dal and Cle are must wins. Hopefully we don’t have to travel to Denver.

  • JT

    I think New England is better overall. I know we won’t have Clark, but I’d rather play Peyton than Brady. Especially if it’s Troy-Allen and not Allen-Mundy in the back of the secondary.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    A plan of root for everyone else to lose every game… We’re going to have to win, thats what to focus on instead. In the words of Jim Mora, PLAYOFFS?? PLAYoffs?

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Yeah we dont need to go to Denver again to know what will happen. I started to go ahead look towar drafting higher but drafting where we’ll be at 16th wont make a diiference because its only one good player & we need too many more of those. Going to take many years to rebuild.

  • JT

    The team doesn’t need to be blown up. You’ve got a franchise QB in his prime, years of picks invested in a O-line, a talented WR core, and up and coming CBs. They’re health, and maybe one or two key players away from being strong contenders.

  • zyzak

    Hard to see Pgh winning any of the remaining games

  • Ahmad

    As long as we beat the Bengals again at Heinz Field, we should be able to make it in. If we end up tying with them, the head-head tiebreaker would then work in our favor. Now it’s just a matter of keeping pace with the Colts.

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    I agree, but I think it’s more like 4 or 5 players needed,(safety at least one, ilb, olb, te and, dare I say, a rb that fits the new offense better)

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    If Ben comes back, there is a chance, but I really don’t see playoffs as a realistic hope.

  • JT

    Idk. Don’t forget about Sean Spence. He could really be a special player if LeBeau brings him along right next year. I also like Paulson at TE, but agree we need a veteran other than Pope. And yes I agree, it’s obvious new RB talent is needed.