The Steelers will not be repeated as the AFC North champions in 2021. But at 8-7-1 in week 19 of the 2021 NFL season, they still have an outside chance to make it to the AFC playoffs as a team with a wild card.
Pittsburgh can no longer win the division because Cincinnati (10-6) finished the title in week 17 with its big comeback victory over Kansas City. SN discusses the Steelers’ only remaining path to the post-season:
NFL WEEK 18 TIPS: Straight up Against the spread
Picture of the Steelers playoffs for week 18
The last two AFC playoff teams to enter week 18 are No. 6 Colts (9-7) and No. 7 Chargers (9-7). The No. 8 Raiders (9-7) are also ahead of the Steelers. Ravens No. 10 (8-8) are just behind.
But in the 18th week, the Chargers play in the Raiders and the Steelers play in the Ravens. This, along with the fact that the Steelers have a unique record thanks to the draw, makes their play-off scenario easier:
1. The Steelers must win
Defeating the Ravens would improve the Steelers to 9-7-1. Ravens are in a similar situation where they need to win their last game and need help.
2. Colts must lose
In week 17, the Colts may have deserved to advance to the playoffs as a wild card behind the winning Titans from AFC South, but they made things more interesting by losing to the Raiders at home. The Steelers need the Colts to stay cool and angry at the Jaguars in week 18.
3. The Chargers or Raider must win
In other words, the Chargers or Raiders must lose (with the second team winning, of course) in week 18. Until their game ends in a draw, so both teams will be 9-7-1, the Steelers would be in with wins over the Browns and Ravens associated with defeat by Colts.
The Steelers can’t make it to the playoffs if the Chargers and Raiders are 9-7-1 with them. Why? In week 2 they lost at home to the Raiders and in week 11 they lost on the road with the Chargers. In that case, the Chargers would make it to the playoffs.
If all three things happened, the Steelers would lead 9-7-1, halfway through the Colts at 9-8. Either the Chargers or the Raiders would be half the game ahead of the Steelers at 10-7 and the other team would be half the game behind at 9-8.
The best the Steelers can do is Seed No. 7, when the Colts drop out and the Chargers-Raiders winner moves to 6th place.