In one of the weirdest NFL weeks in a while, one of the craziest plays ever (the Miami miracle) overshadowed what would otherwise be a major headline going into this week. In typical Steelers fashion, they lost against a vastly inferior opponent on the road. This marks the third straight loss for Pittsburgh and brings their record down to 7-5-1. With a daunting schedule down the road, it becomes fair to ask: Will the Steelers somehow miss the playoffs?
At the moment, Pittsburgh still sits half a game above Baltimore. Obviously for them to miss the playoffs, they would have to lose the division. The Ravens are primed to win two out of their remaining three games, with it being probable that they take down Cleveland and Tampa Bay while dropping one to the Chargers in LA. This means the Steelers would have to lose two of their last three to not take the division crown. Unfortunately for the Yinzers, the next two games for the Steelers are the Patriots and the Saints.
The Patriots are well known for their ability to bounce back after a hard loss. Combine this with the fact that Brady is 10-2 against the Steelers and the immense pressure New England is under to win this game with the first round bye (and maybe even the divsion?) up for grabs, and it seems as if the Patriots are primed for a big win against the Steelers. Looking ahead to next week, and the Saints will still be playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs with something to prove after a few lackluster performances. If these two games go how they should, the Steelers will have dropped 5 straight, dropping to 7-7-1 and most likely staring up at the Ravens.
Even if the Steelers beat the Bengals in Week 17, they will end up 8-7-1 and need the Dolphins, Colts, and Titans to all lose at least 2 of their last 3. Titans and Colts play each other. With the assumption that this doesn’t somehow end in a tie, an additional win from the victor would eliminate the Steelers from the post season. Both teams still play the Giants, who despite looking better as of late are still a team with a losing record and a QB far past his prime. In addition to this, the Titans face a hapless Redskins attack (THEY’RE STARTING JOSH JOHNSON!!!). The Colts still face the Cowboys, but even that game is in Indy. The odds of both of these teams winning two are fairly high. Due to the fact that only one of them needs to win 2, I would not feel confident if I were Tomlin. And let’s not forget Miami, who went from pretender to stud with a walk-off win against New England. They play a Vikings squad that just got embarrassed on prime time against the Seahawks, then the Jags and the Bills. If the Colts beat the Titans, it is very possible that all of these teams could win two games. In other words, if the Steelers drop two, they are in very bad shape.
Tomlin is one of the more polarizing coaches in the league. He’s done some amazing things, but really never seems to be able to get his teams to play up to their full potential. With the clock winding down of the 2018 season and a daunting schedule ahead, the Steelers and Tomlin are staring down the barrel of the gun. If they lose to the Pats and Saints, don’t be surprised if an awfully desirable head coaching position opens up in the Steel City.