Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Just two weeks ago the Steelers fell to 2-6 after getting hammered 55-31 by the New England Patriots. Most of the diehards, at least those not solely-focused on the firing of Mike Tomlin, Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau, started to discuss the draft and how it would be best for the team to lose as many games as possible, ensuring a high draft pick.
Two weeks later the Steelers are 4-6 and in the middle of a crowded picture for the second wild-card spot in the AFC. Making the playoffs is no longer a pipe dream. In fact, I think it is likely, IF THE STEELERS WIN THEIR NEXT TWO GAMES.
Not only going to make the playoffs, they can do it only going 8-8. Here's how:
The schedules for the eight teams in contention for the second wild-card spot. Games in Bold are predicted losses.
Jets (5-5) At Ravens, Dolphins, Raiders, At Panthers, Browns, At Dolphins (8-8)
Dolphins (5-5) Panthers, At Jets, At Steelers, Patriots, At Bills, Jets (7-9)
Steelers (4-6) At Browns, At Ravens, Dolphins, Bengals, At Packers, Browns (8-8)
Ravens (4-6) Jets, Steelers, Vikings, At Lions, Patriots, At Bengals (7-9)
Browns (4-6) Steelers, Jaguars, At Patriots, Bears, At Jets, At Steelers (6-10)
Titans (4-6) At Raiders, At Colts, At Broncos, Cardinals, At Jaguars, Texans (7-9)
Raiders (4-6) Titans, At Cowboys, At Jets, Chiefs, At Chargers, Broncos (6-10)
Chargers (4-6) At Chiefs, Bengals, Giants, At Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs (8-8)
Tiebreaker #3 applies to the Jets, Steelers and Chargers who are tied at 8-8. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference is the tiebreaker. Here is how they finish under the above scenario (which assumes the Chargers beat the Bengals, Giants and Chiefs at home. If you assume another loss for the Chargers and it is only Steelers/Jets at 8-8, the Steelers get in due to their head-to-head win.)
AFC Conference record:
Steelers in the playoffs at 8-8.
If you are digesting your turkey dinner watching the Steelers beat the Ravens around 11:30 Thanksgiving night, raising their record to 6-6, it might be time to start making reservations for Indianapolis or Cincinnati the first week of the playoffs.