Heading into the final Week of the 2023 season, everyone wants to know what the Pittsburgh Steelers have to do in order to earn a playoff berth this year. After a three-game losing streak to begin the month of December, all hope was looking lost. Fortunately, this team has found new life and has earned back-to-back road wins.
The Steelers are now sitting on a 9-7 record just ahead of their season finale against the Baltimore Ravens. According to NFL.com's playoff picture, Pittsburgh currently has a 46 percent chance of making the postseason. However, this jumps up to a 66 percent chance with a win in Baltimore in Week 18.
We now know exactly what needs to happen for the Steelers to enter the playoffs this year. Here are all five clinching scenarios that could give this team entry into the biggest tournament on turf.
1. Steelers win and Jaguars loss or tie
Let's start with one of the most likely scenarios. The Steelers can get into the playoffs this year with a win against the Ravens and a loss or tie by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are 3.5-point favorites on the road against the Titans this week, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. Though Jacksonville has won three straight, they were previously 1-9 in their last 10 games against this AFC South rival, via The Football Database.
2. Steelers win and Bills loss
The other of the two most plausible scenarios for Pittsburgh to enter the playoffs is with a Steelers win and a Bills loss in Week 18. The Bills exploited the Dolphins' defense last time around, and if Pittsburgh wins, Buffalo will be fighting for their lives. The Bills have more to play for than a banged-up Miami team right now (that has already clinched a playoff berth and can no longer claim the number-one seed). If it comes down to this, every Steelers fan will suddenly be a Dolphins fan for Sunday Night Football.
3. Steelers win and Colts-Texans ends in a tie
Now we start to get into the improbable scenarios. The third way the Steelers can get into the playoffs is with a win and a tie between the Colts and Texans this week. Ties are very uncommon in the NFL. All three of these teams are knotted with a 9-7 record, but a win from either team will be enough to get in. The Steelers lost to both Indy and Houston, so they do not hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over either team.
4. Steelers tie and Colts-Texans do not end in a tie and Jaguars loss
The fourth way the Steelers can get into the playoffs is through a tie against the Ravens, the Colts-Texans game does not end in a tie, and the Jaguars lose against the Titans. The likelihood of this particular scenario playing out is slim to none, but technically, it's a route to get to the playoffs.
5. Steelers win or loss, Colts-Texans does not end in a tie, Jaguars loss and Broncos win.
Now we are just reaching for the stars. The final scenario outlines a way that the Steelers can get into the playoffs even with a loss. Of course, this would require the Jags to lose, the Broncos to win on the road against the Raiders, and the Colts-Texans game to not end in a tie. Talk about a crazy sequence.
If the Pittsburgh Steelers somehow lose to the Baltimore Ravens, don't count them out yet. They would still have a 16 percent chance of making the playoffs heading into the Colts-Texans game on Saturday night. Regardless of what happens in Baltimore in Week 18, buckle up! This is going to be a bumpy ride!