Pittsburgh Steelers playoff chances devastated by Week 17 results

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9). Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9). Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are almost officially eliminated from the playoffs. Here’s why the Week 17 games did not play out in their favor. 

With the Pittsburgh Steelers not taking the field until Monday night, fans could do nothing more than sit and watch other AFC teams take the stage — hoping that the results of the game would turn out in Pittsburgh’s favor. Sadly, things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Steelers playoff chances in Week 17.

While the Broncos, Colts, Dolphins, and Ravens each fell to their opponents this week, the AFC Wild Card picture was all but solidified with the Bills, Titans, Patriots, and Chargers each earning wins. However, without a doubt the most devastating outcome for the Steelers in Week 17 was the Cincinnati Bengals upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs.

After allowing 28 first-half points, Zac Taylor’s team clamped down in the second half with just 3 points allowed as Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase were electrifying in the 34-31 win that came down to the wire. Sadly, the Bengals officially claimed the AFC North title with the win, and Pittsburgh’s road to the playoffs now becomes borderline impossible.

Prior to Week 17, the Steelers had a 12 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 6 percent chance of winning the division, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. As of Monday morning, these odds have plummeted to just a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs.

The only route to do so is via the final Wild Card seed, as the division has already been locked up by Cincinnati. There is now just one possible avenue for this to happen.

What must happen for the Steelers to make the playoffs?

Obviously, the first thing that needs to happen is for Pittsburgh to take care of business on their end. A loss tonight against the Browns or in Week 18 vs Ravens will officially eliminate them. But winning out isn’t the only thing that has to happen for the Steelers to get in.

With victories in Week 17, the Titans, Bills, Bengals, and Patriots have all officially locked up a playoff spot this year. Meanwhile, the Colts still have a 90 percent chance of making the tournament despite the loss to Las Vegas. The Raiders and Chargers are likely fighting for the final spot in the AFC Wild Card race with a 55 percent chance and 51 percent chance to make the tournament, respectively.

After the outcomes in Week 17, the Steelers and Ravens each have just a 2 percent chance. In order to make the playoffs, Pittsburgh must win each of their final two games against the Browns and Ravens, and the Indianapolis Colts must lose to the Jaguars in Week 18 — something that seems incredibly unlikely considering how each of those two teams have been playing as of late. A tie to either the Browns or Ravens will eliminate the Steelers.

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The realistic Steelers fan knows that this season is in the books while the optimist still clings to a glimmer of hope. All we can do at this point is enjoy what could be the final two games of Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL career.