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AFC Playoffs: Who Should Steelers Root for in Week 17?

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The Pittsburgh Steelers enter Week 17 on the outside looking into the AFC playoff picture, but the team still has a chance to continue its year beyond the regular season.

The Steelers must beat the Cleveland Browns on Monday night to stay in contention, but there are plenty of games that will be happening on Sunday that will impact Pittsburgh’s chances, which currently stand at a 12% chance of making the playoffs, with a 6% chance of winning the AFC North and a 6% shot of making it as a wild card, according to 538.

• Chiefs at Bengals: The most impactful game for the Steelers comes at 1 p.m., when the Kansas City Chiefs visit the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers need the Bengals to lose to have any hope of winning the division. A Cincinnati win drops the Steelers’ playoff chances to 8% — all as a wild card. A loss lifts them to 14%, with a 10% chance of taking the North title.

Verdict: The Steelers better hope Kansas City’s strong run of play continues.

• Rams at Ravens:  The Baltimore Ravens also have a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Los Angeles Rams. The Ravens aren’t in the Steelers’ way of a divisional crown, but the Baltimore winning would knock the Steelers’ wild card odds down a bit. 

Verdict: It’s not a deal-breaker, but the Ravens losing would be nice.

• Raiders at Colts: The best the Steelers can finish is 9-7-1, which means in order to finish as a wild card, Pittsburgh needs there to be at most two wild card teams with 10 wins. The Colts become one with a win, but because Indianapolis finishes with lowly Jacksonville, it seems unlikely that they won’t eventually get there anyway.  A loss would keep the Raiders from being able to pass a 9-7-1 Steelers team.

Verdict: With John Madden’s recent death, the Raiders will be sentimental favorites, but Steelers fans are left hoping the COVID-19-impacted Colts pull through.

• Dolphins at Titans: The hard-charging Dolphins have gone from 1-7 to 8-7 and in the thick of the AFC playoff race. The Steelers’ odds go up to 14% with a Miami loss, and like Vegas, it would prevent them from passing a 9-7-1 Pittsburgh team.

Verdict: Hope the Titans stop Miami’s streak.

• Broncos at Chargers: The Broncos already can’t catch the Steelers, so a win by Denver would go a long way to putting the Chargers in that group, too.

Verdict: A Chargers loss bumps the Steelers playoff odds up 3%.

So what happens if the Steelers get all their help? Losses by the Bengals, Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders and Ravens would put the Steelers at 20% to make the playoffs before Monday’s game.

Wins by all five of those teams would leave the Steelers with just a 1% chance of making the postseason.

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