The Pittsburgh Steelers and AFC playoffs picture got some clarity off Saturday, as the Kansas City Chiefs have clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC with their 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday evening.
The Chiefs are now 14-3 with the victory. The best the Buffalo Bills can finish is 13-3 and the Cincinnati Bengals 12-4, thanks to the Week 17 game between those teams being canceled. That means the only thing the Bills have to play for on Sunday against the New England Patriots is whether Buffalo or Cincinnati will be the No. 2 seed.
If the Bills win, they will be locked into the No. 2 seed. The Steelers need Buffalo to beat New England, along with a New York Jets win over the Miami Dolphins and a Pittsburgh win over the Cleveland Browns, to make the postseason.
Of course, the Bills have plenty to play for emotionally, six days after teammate Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field in Cincinnati on Monday Night and has spent the week in the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The health of Hamlin, who is alert in the hospital and has spoken to teammates this week on the phone and through FaceTime this week, has been an emotional roller coaster for the Bills this week, and they plan to channel emotion that into fuel for a victory over the Patriots on Sunday, even though the team’s regular-season goals are largely locked up.
“Mario (Hamlin, Damar’s father), talking to us as a team, he kinda told us — demanded us — to play for him and you can’t not honor his request to go out there and charge forward to the best of our abilities,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said. “We want to go out there and play for 3. It’ll be a huge driving force.”
The Chiefs win means that if the Steelers do make it as a No. 7 seed, they will visit No. 2 seed Buffalo in the Wild Card round. The Steelers have played the Bills in each of the last four seasons, with Buffalo winning three of the four, including a 38-3 thrashing in Week 5 of this season. The last playoff game between the teams was a 40-26 Pittsburgh victory in January 1996.