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Who Steelers Need to Root for to Save Slim Playoff Chances



Steelers LG Isaac Seumalo RB Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris and guard Isaac Seumalo look at a tablet during a game against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 16, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

INDIANAPOLIS — The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their playoff odds take a huge tumble after Saturday’s 30-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

But the Steelers are still alive in the AFC playoff race, and while they don’t entirely control their own destiny at this point, they are very likely to get a spot in the event they win each of their final three games, as unlikely as that might seem right now.

They play the Cincinnati Bengals, and if they beat them next week on the way to winning out, the Steelers will not be able to fall behind the Bengals.

The Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills are both a half-game ahead of the Steelers, and the Texans have a head-to-head win, so keeping them out of a Wild Card tie is key.

So what help do the Steelers need in Week 15 to keep the hope alive?


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

Chicago Bears over Cleveland Browns

In Sunday’s 1 p.m. games, the Steelers need to root for the Chicago Bears to beat the Cleveland Browns. While the Browns are a game and a half ahead of the Steelers, Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker, so bringing Cleveland back to the pack will be a help.

Tennessee Titans over Houston Texans

The Steelers also would be helped by the Tennessee Titans beating the Houston Texans. Not only would that loss keep the Texans from gaining a full game on the Steelers, it would give them a losing conference record, and help negate Houston’s head-to-head win over Pittsburgh in a three-way tie.

Texans rookie wonder C.J. Stroud will not be playing in this game, with journeyman backup Case Keenum replacing him, so a Titans win isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. They’re also coming off a win over the Miami Dolphins last week.

Dallas Cowboys over Buffalo Bills

The big one comes on Sunday afternoon, when the Buffalo Bills play the Dallas Cowboys. The Bills have had an up-and-down season, but have been playing much better football lately. In their last three games, they routed the New York Jets, lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in overtime, and beat the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Their next two games come against the struggling Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots, and the Miami Dolphins may not have much to play for in Week 18. The Steelers need at least one Bills loss, and this seems like the best shot.

If the Steelers get all three of those games to fall their way, their playoff odds will increase from the current 9% to 15%, per the New York Times. If all three teams fail, they’ll tumble to 5%. No matter what happens, the Steelers cannot be eliminated this week.