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Steelers Have Five Ways to Make the Playoffs in Week 18



Steelers OLB T.J. Watt Playoff
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 26, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers will not know their playoff fate, even after their Week 18 game against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday is complete.

The Steelers and Ravens will play the first game of Week 18, at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon from Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.

The Steelers can’t clinch a playoff win without help, and they can’t be eliminated, even with a loss, so they will be stuck waiting for Sunday’s results to find out their playoff hopes, no matter what happens Saturday.

In the final game of the regular season, the Steelers have five ways to make the playoffs, and four of the five will need to wait until Sunday to be decided.

Here’s how the Steelers can get into the playoffs:


Steelers win and Indianapolis and Houston tie

The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans are the other Saturday game, kicking off at 8:15 p.m., just about the time the Steelers should be wrapping things up in Baltimore.

The only way this game can impact the Steelers is the Steelers tie, or if it finishes in a tie. We’ll get to the Steelers tie scenario in a bit. But if the Texans and Colts tie, and the Steelers win, they’re in and that’s the only way they can clinch on Saturday.

Steelers win and Jacksonville loses or ties

If the Steelers beat the Ravens and things don’t end in a tie on Saturday night, their first opportunity to clinch a playoff berth will come when the Jacksonville Jaguars visit the Tennessee Titans at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The Titans have been eliminated from playoff contention, but could look to play spoilers against a divisional rival.

Steelers tie, Indianapolis and Houston do not tie, Jacksonville loses

This one doesn’t seem particularly likely, but if the Steelers tie the Ravens and the Colts and Texans don’t tie on Saturday, they will get in with a Jaguars loss.

Indianapolis and Houston do not tie, Jacksonville loses, Denver wins

This is the one way that the Steelers can get in, even if they lose in Baltimore. They will need the Colts and Texans to not tie on Sunday, and they still need the Jaguars to lose, along with a Denver Broncos victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.

That would bring the Steelers, Jaguars and Broncos to a tie for the last seed at 9-8, and the Steelers would advance based on their superior conference record. The only problem with that is that the Broncos and Raiders have both been eliminated and have nothing to play for.

Steelers win and Buffalo loses

If the Steelers’ fate is still up in the air after the 1 p.m. games on Sunday, they will need to sweat it out until the very last breath of the 2023 regular season.

The Steelers will advance with a win and a Buffalo Bills loss to the Miami Dolphins, and both of those teams will have plenty to play for. The winner of the Bills and Dolphins game will claim the AFC East title and home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The loser faces a first-round road trip to Kansas City — talk about a big swing in their Super Bowl fortune.

As things stand right now, the New York Times playoff simulator gives the Steelers a 28% chance of making it to the playoffs. That will rise to 72% with a win over the Ravens, and fall to 20% with a loss.


1. Baltimore Ravens 13-3
2. Miami Dolphins 11-5
3. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7
5. Cleveland Browns 11-5
6. Buffalo Bills 10-6
7. Indianapolis Colts 9-7
8. Houston Texans 9-7
9. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
10. Denver Broncos 8-8
11. Cincinnati Bengals 8-8
12. Las Vegas Raiders 7-9
13. New York Jets 6-10
14. Tennessee Titans 5-11
15. Los Angeles Chargers 5-11
16. New England Patriots 4-12