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QB Changes Greatly Impact Steelers Playoff Hopes



Steelers Texans QB C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sep. 17, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

The Steelers’ playoff hopes lay dramatically at their own feet, but they will need help to even get into the playoffs, even if they win out. That’s asking a lot, and some quarterback changes and injuries around the AFC will have big-time implications for Pittsburgh.

For one, C.J. Stroud is returning from a concussion that caused him to miss the last two weeks. As a result, under Case Keenum’s guidance, the Texans have stumbled, but with the Titans and Colts coming up, they will need Stroud to play well to compete for the division or a wild-card playoff berth potentially. It’s not an excruciating schedule, but the Titans have been sneaky over the past few weeks and the Colts will be playing with house money.

Meanwhile, the Broncos benching Russell Wilson has ripple effects there. For one, in the scenario that the Steelers and Broncos finish with the same record but are tied with some of the AFC South teams, that could help the Steelers get into the postseason. And since they play the Raiders in Week 18, the Raiders could have the same effect for the Steelers playoff hopes. Jarrett Stidham will start there.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Instead, they will play C.J. Beathard, leading the AFC playoff race into a massive week. The Steelers will be one such team watching, as a Jaguars loss will ensure that if they win out, they control their own destiny. They play the Titans following their game against the Panthers. Over the last month, the Jaguars have stumbled through their schedule, and now the division title that seemed to be coming easily to them is cracking at the seams.

The Steelers currently have a 12% chance of making it to the postseason, with the biggest hurdle being their own two games in front of them. The Steelers will face the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday and then the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18. Both games are on the road.