12/8/22-Steelers Have Shot At Postseason

By: Mike Pelaia

It’s highly unlikely. Nearly impossible. But, the Steelers have a chance, albeit a slim one, to make the playoffs. At 5-7, it’s hard to believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers are even ‘in the hunt’ for the postseason but all of the sudden, after two straight wins, here they are.

With the injury to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the door opened up a bit more. What the Steelers will still need to do, however, to get to the promised land of the postseason, is run the table. There’s no other way that I see it happening. If they do that, they’ll need to win their final five games and seven in a row overall. The good news is the schedule is relatively soft compared to the beginning of the season.

Pittsburgh has two games left vs. Baltimore, one of which we know Lamar Jackson will not play in, possibly both. They have the Panthers, who are not good, on the road, Las Vegas at home on Christmas Eve, Baltimore again, possibly still without Jackson and then finish with Cleveland at home. Crazily enough, the Steelers could conceivably win each of those games, and they’ll need to. They are going head to head for that last wild card spots against teams they lose head to head tie breakers to, like the Jets, Patriots and Browns (for now). They also will be up against the Raiders and Chargers. Winning out is the only way to do it. Should the Steelers win out, they’ll sport a 10-7 record, and based on my simulator, with tie breakers, that would net them the 6th seed in the playoffs, with the Ravens being the 7th seed, having the same 10-7 record but being swept by Pittsburgh.

It’s still a long shot but it’s now a conversation to be had. The play of Kenny Pickett has to continue to excel and the running game needs to be the catalyst of the offense. If the running backs, Najee Harris, Benny Snell and whomever else carries the ball, can continue to average 4.0 yards per carry or more, this team has a shot. I’d look for the defense to be the unit that has to carry the team as a whole and maintain opposing offenses to less than 20 points. If they do that with the rush of TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith and stuffing the run, which is what four of their five next opponents like to do most often, they have a chance.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

The Steelers will face the Ravens this coming weekend who will be led by Tyler Huntley, in Jackson’s absence. Huntley is a serviceable quarterback. He started four games for Baltimore last year, completing 65% of his passes for a touch of 1,000 yards. And while he’s not as dynamic as Jackson, Huntley added another 294 yards rushing. The Steelers can’t take him lightly but they can force Huntley into errors.

They need to keep him in the pocket, blitz him often and stuff the rushing attack. If they can manage to run the ball with Najee Harris and control the clock, this game could go their way. I see this as another classic Steelers vs. Ravens game, low scoring, hard hitting and ugly.

Steelers 17 Ravens 13


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