The Cleveland Browns (7-8) have been eliminated from playoff contention. But Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) have plenty to play for when these old-school AFC North foes meet for the 141st time Monday night. We’ll take a look at the playoff scenarios for the Steelers — can the Browns play spoiler?
Update: The Steelers have defeated the Browns, 26 – 14. Playoff scenarios are listed below. For a complete up-to-date picture, visit our NFL Playoff Scenarios.
Playoff implications for Browns vs. Steelers
The Cincinnati Bengals locked up the AFC North Sunday with a thrilling win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Consequently, a Bengals loss and a Browns win would have set up an all-Ohio division championship game in Week 18.
Instead, the Bengals secured at least one home playoff game and left the rest of the division playing for the Wild Card, if that. The Ravens, despite losing to the Rams on Sunday, also still have a playoff pulse, although it’s faint.
How the Browns can make the playoffs
They cannot. Cleveland was formally eliminated when the Chargers beat the Broncos late Sunday afternoon. Baker Mayfield and the Browns have nothing on the line these last two games other than pride and perhaps future earnings.
How the Steelers can make the playoffs
Pittsburgh is currently the ninth seed and two games back in the win column of the seventh seed. As a result, the Steelers enter Monday’s game with just a 2% chance of reaching the postseason, per FiveThirtyEight.
There is no path to the postseason without a win Monday night. Indeed, a loss or a tie would eliminate them.
Then, the Steelers need to beat the Ravens in Week 18 and get really lucky. That luck would include the Indianapolis Colts losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars — who just got beat by 40 and, from what we hear, has a locker room that is completely checked out. And even still, that wouldn’t be enough for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers’ Week 10 tie to the Detroit Lions means that Sunday night’s Chargers-Raiders clash cannot end in a tie, or Pittsburgh would also be eliminated. A tie combined with a Colts loss would create a three-way deadlock for the sixth and seventh seeds, and Los Angeles and Las Vegas would get in over Pittsburgh.
How the Steelers got here
Pittsburgh started the season 5-3-1 and was in the driver’s seat for at least a Wild Card berth. But that tie against the Lions in mid-November served as a huge warning sign. Here’s a look at the Steelers’ 2021 schedule and results, which include just two wins in the last seven games.
Week 1: Steelers 23, Bills 16
Week 2: Raiders 26, Steelers 17
Week 3: Bengals 24, Steelers 10
Week 4: Packers 27, Steelers 17
Week 5: Steelers 27, Broncos 19
Week 6: Steelers 23, Seahawks 20
Week 7: Bye
Week 8: Steelers 15, Browns 10
Week 9: Steelers 29, Bears 27
Week 10: Steelers 16, Lions 16
Week 11: Chargers 41, Steelers 37
Week 12: Bengals 41, Steelers 10
Week 13: Steelers 20, Ravens 19
Week 14: Vikings 36, Steelers 28
Week 15: Steelers 19, Titans 13
Week 16: Chiefs 36, Steelers 10
Week 17: Browns vs. Steelers
Week 18: Steelers vs. Ravens