Monday, December 11, 2006

Week 14: Playoff Possibilities Update

More than a few of the fan websites dedicated to the Steelers are examining just what has to happen for the Steelers to make their way into the playoffs. While the very idea of the Steelers making the playoffs seems most improbable it doesn't do any harm to take a moment or two to consider just what does have to happen for the Black & Gold to be playing in January.

Going into Sunday's games the Steelers were ranked tenth in the American Football Conference, and with all the AFC teams having completed play a look at the curent conference standings reveals that despite their win on Thursday the Steelers have slipped to eleventh.

As of now the top six teams in the AFC are San Diego (who clinched the Western Division chanpionship with their win versus Denver), Indianapolis, Baltimore, New England, Cincinnati, and Jacksonville. The Steelers have lost to four of the teams on the list, and both teams currently in the Wild Card positions (so while the Steelers get another shot at Cincinnati, the Jacksonville win over Indianapolis isn't good news for the Steelers).

What follows is a list of the teams between Pittsburgh and the #6 seed in the AFC playoffs (assuming of course that the Steelers win their final three games to finish the regular season at 9-7), as well as the cumulative won-loss records of their respective opponents in the season's final three games.

10. Buffalo (22-17)
09. Denver (17-22, with two games against NFC opponents -- Arizona and San Francisco)
08. Kansas City (21-18)
07. New York Jets (14-25)
06. Jacksonville (22-17)

By way of comaprison the cumulative record for the Steelers' final three opponents is 24-15, the toughest stretch of any of these teams. It may seem premature to some but I believe that the Steelers are likely to come up one game short of making a playoff spot (i.e. the Steelers will tie the Jaguars record, but miss the postseason because of the head-to-head loss); and the inexcusable loss to Oakland will come back to haunt Pittsburgh again.

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