Four seasons ago, the NFL expanded its playoff field from 12 teams to 14 teams and introduced the seventh seed into the postseason mix. However, since the introduction of seven playoff teams per conference, the “last team in” has not fared well which means if history has anything to say, the Steelers are in trouble on Monday.
After both seventh-seeds lost in the Wild Card round last season, the all-time record for seventh-seeds in the playoffs dropped to a disappointing 0-6.
Fortunately, for the Steelers, Green Bay just showed the world that it is possible to pull off an upset as the last-seeded team. The Packers just dominated the Cowboys, 48-32, on Sunday afternoon. The game marked the first win for any seventh-seed in NFL playoff history.
The 2020 NFL season was the first year that the seventh-best team from each conference had an opportunity at postseason aspirations. In both cases, the seventh-seed lost their respective matchups.
The following season, the Steelers squeaked into the playoffs as the AFC’s seventh-seed before they were demolished at Arrowhead Stadium by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-21.
This season, the Steelers narrowly claimed the seventh seed for the second time in four seasons. While they face an arguably easier opponent this time around in the Buffalo Bills, it will still be an uphill battle for the Steelers to break the mold and claim a victory in Orchard Park on Sunday.
With this season being the second time that the Steelers find themselves in this exact scenario, it should be pointed out that the Bills are no stranger to the seventh-seed versus second-seed matchup, either.
In the 2020 playoffs, the Bills edged out the Indianapolis Colts, 27-24, as the second-seed, and just last season, the Bills barely defeated the Skylar Thompson-led seventh-seeded Dolphins, 34-31, in Super Wild Card Weekend.
Even with the Packers victory on Sunday, history still does not favor the Steelers’ chances on Monday. Luckily, for the Steelers, the Bills have shown that they will allow their opponent to stick around in these situations as both of their two victories came by just 3 points each.
For the Steelers, that might just be all that they need as the story of this team has been, ‘Let us stick around and we will find a way.’
Full list of No. 7 vs. No. 2 in NFL playoff games:
No. 2 Buffalo beat No. 7 Indianapolis, 27-24
No. 2 New Orleans beat No. 7 Chicago 21-9
No. 2 Kansas City beat No. 7 Pittsburgh 42-21
No. 2 Tampa Bay beat No. 7 Philadelphia 31-15
No. 2 Buffalo beat No. 7 Miami 34-31
No. 2 San Francisco beat No. 7 Seattle 41-23
No. 7 Green Bay beat No. 2 Dallas 48-32