Steelers' playoff hopes hang in the balance of two critical upcoming games

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Michael Longo/For USA Today Network /

By some inexplicable cosmic force, the Steelers are a five-win football team roughly halfway through the 2023 regular season. If we desire to be one of the teams that will vie for the right to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy, we must win the remaining games we should win but we also must win some games we probably should not win.

Now, I never like to admit that we probably won't win a game, but I am a realist. Having been a fan of the Steelers for forty-five-plus years, I have seen too many losses in games that we should have won. Conversely, I have seen plenty of games where we snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat.

Make no mistake, with the way this season is playing out, the Steelers will need to win the remaining home games and will need to win two road games that probably looked like losses early in the season, but now, with the way we are playing, are going to have to be won, if we want to be in the conversation for the playoffs.

Steelers must win against the Colts and Seahawks to make the playoffs

So, let's get to it. I am making this assumption: we will win our remaining home games. If we can accomplish that goal, and, believe me, that is easier said than done as we sit here right now. According to ESPN, the Steelers are ranked twenty-ninth in total offense and thirty-first in total defense, we will be in a good spot if we can beat the Indianapolis Colts and the Seattle Seahawks.

It is no coincidence that both games are road games, one against a conference opponent and the other against a non-conference opponent. If you look at the conference standings, the Colts only have one more conference loss than we do. That is a very slim margin for error.

A lot could happen between now and week fifteen when we meet the Colts. They have three conference games between now and week fifteen. We also have three conference games between now and then. Again, the margin for error is very slim.

Let's assume we beat the Colts. We then play the Cincinnati Bengals at home before we head to the Pacific Northwest to play the Seahawks. Coming off what will most likely be a physical game against the Colts, having to travel across the country to play 'in a hostile environment' as Mike Tomlin would say, may prove to be too much to ask.

If we beat the Colts and lose to the Seahawks, the season would certainly not be lost but I think our playoff chances would take a major hit. Frankly, although we are currently a five-win team, it doesn't 'feel' like we are a five-win team, but, somehow, some way, we are. Let's hope that winning trend continues.