One obscure scenario in which the Steelers miss the playoffs

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) pressures Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4). Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) pressures Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4). Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers are banking on a Colts loss and a win vs Ravens to get into the playoffs, but here’s an obscure scenario in which they could miss the playoffs even if this happens. 

After the results of Week 17, the path for the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the playoffs this year became very clear. There is now just one avenue in order to do so: Pittsburgh must beat Baltimore on Sunday and the Indianapolis Colts must lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While this is the only way for Pittsburgh to get into the tournament this year, there’s one thing we haven’t accounted for — something totally obscure that could eliminate the Steelers even if these things happen. If the Chargers vs Raiders game on Sunday Night Football ends in a tie, both the Steelers and Colts would fall short of the playoffs and these two teams would take their place.

Though entirely unlikely, this scenario has stirred up some interesting conversation. Let’s say that things play out this way prior to Sunday night’s game. The Steelers beat the Ravens on the road in Week 18 and the Jaguars upset the Colts in Jacksonville. This means that both the Raiders and Chargers would know that a tie on Sunday Night Football gets them into the playoffs.

Could this nightmare scenario for Steelers play out?

For Steelers fans watching the games on Sunday, this should be the least of our worries. Pittsburgh can only control what they can control, and Mike Tomlin needs to be focused on taking down the Baltimore Ravens in the season finale — a game that hopefully comes with us witnessing history with T.J. Watt breaking the single-season sack record.

However, it seems incredibly unlikely that a team like the Colts — who are 6-2 over their last 8 games — would fall to the worst team in the league against Jacksonville when there is still something to play for. But if this scenario does indeed come to fruition, what’s to stop Los Angeles and Los Vegas from agreeing to mutually tie the game?

While this seems like tampering to the nth degree, there are no rules set in place specifically for this scenario to my knowledge. For all we know, head coaches Brandon Staley and Rich Bisaccia could have already had a phone conversation about this very topic.

Fortunately, I think there’s almost no chance of this happening. Staley already came out and essentially said that this isn’t something that’s on the table and that ‘We all respect the game and the NFL shield too much to be complicit [in a tie],’ according to Andrew Fillipponi.

I think it would also raise warranted suspicion if this contest did end up in a tie — whether intentional or not — and the NFL may be willing to investigate if this were to happen.

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All we can hope for is that the Steelers take care of business in Week 18 and are assisted with a rare Jacksonville win this week. If those two things are able to happen, Pittsburgh should be in the playoffs this year. The chances are slim, but it’s something to root for.