After losing to the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have meaningless AFC North matchups soon to close the 2022 season.
I can guarantee you that this isn’t what the NFL was hoping for when the 2022 schedule was made. Who knew that Mike Tomlin’s team could be almost officially out of the running this early? Sadly, that’s exactly the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers early in December.
Losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 essentially sealed Pittsburgh’s fate. Now their slim odds of staying competitive until late in the season have gone by the wayside. After falling to 5-8, the Steelers have just a 0.2 percent chance of making the playoffs this year, according to FiveThirtyEight.
This is a fate that many of us believed Pittsburgh was destined for. On paper, they haven’t been a good team at all in 2022. However, what’s most disheartening is that there will be a pair of utterly meaningless Steelers games against AFC North rivals in January. I can’t remember the last time we’d had to say this.
Steelers will have nothing but pride to play for
Over the next two weeks, Pittsburgh will face Carolina and Las Vegas. But regardless of the outcome of these two games, there will almost certainly be nothing to play for when the Steelers are scheduled to take on the Ravens and Browns in their final two games of the 2022 season.
Mathematically, there is still a way that Pittsburgh could make the tournament, but even if they win, there’s only a 5 percent chance of this happening, and they would still be depending on a complete collapse from several other AFC teams to find themselves in the final Wild Card seed. Currently, they sit all the way down at 13th in the AFC standings — third from the bottom.
These normally intense matchups against AFC North rivals will be a slap in the face, as Steelers fans know that there is nothing more than Tomlin’s pride hinging on the results. In fact, many fans could be rooting for a loss at this point to boost Pittsburgh’s value in the 2023 NFL Draft.
What will be extremely frustrating is if the Steelers suffer any big injuries in meaningless action that could linger on until the start of next season. For this reason, Pittsburgh should consider shutting down their best players in January when there will be nothing to play for.
With a month still to go in the regular season, it’s incredibly disheartening to that the Pittsburgh Steelers are essentially eliminated from the playoffs. We look forward to late-season, cold-weather AFC North matchups every year, but this time, these games will be utterly meaningless.