Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Scenarios and Chances: Have 3 Straight Losses Doomed Steelers’ Postseason Hopes?

Three straight losses have hurt the Steelers, but they haven't been eliminated from the playoffs. What's Pittsburgh's path to a Wild Card berth?

The Pittsburgh Steelers looked like near-playoff locks three weeks ago when a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals moved the club to 7-4. With games against the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots, the Steelers were supposed to cruise to nine wins, close out the regular season, and head into the postseason.

But Pittsburgh managed to drop both of those games before getting blown out by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. The Steelers have already been eliminated from winning the AFC North title, while their chances at a Wild Card berth are quickly evaporating.

Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Chances | Week 16 Update

Note that this article was originally published on Saturday, Dec. 23 at 8:05 a.m. before Saturday’s games began. The results of this week’s games are below and will continue to be updated throughout the day.

After all the games in Week 16, the Steelers are the No. 9 seed in the AFC.

Saturday Games Update
Steelers (8-7) defeated Bengals (8-7)
Bills (9-6) defeated Chargers (5-10)

Sunday 1 p.m. ET Games Update
Browns (10-5) defeated Texans (8-7)
Falcons (7-8) defeated Colts (8-7)

Sunday 4 p.m. ET Games Update
Dolphins (11-4) defeated Cowboys (10-5)
Buccaneers (8-7) defeated Jaguars (8-7)

SNF Update
Patriots (4-11) defeated Broncos (7-8)

Christmas Day Update
Raiders (7-8) defeated Chiefs (9-6)
Ravens (12-3) defeated 49ers (11-4)

Keep reading below to see the playoff scenarios for the Steelers entering Week 16. Additionally, head over to PFN’s free NFL Playoff Predictor to test various scenarios and see how they change both the playoff picture and the current NFL playoff bracket.

Steelers’ Playoff Chances Entering Week 16

Here’s a sobering reality for Steelers fans: Pittsburgh had roughly a four-in-five chance of making the playoffs entering Week 13, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).

Three losses later, the Steelers’ odds are down to just 4%. The Las Vegas Raiders are the only AFC team yet to be eliminated from playoff contention with lower postseason odds (0.7%) than Pittsburgh.

At 7-7, the Steelers are the AFC’s tenth team heading into Week 16. They have the same record as the Denver Broncos, but Pittsburgh has the advantage, thanks to its superior mark in the conference (5-5 vs. 4-5).

The Steelers have almost no chance of catching the Cleveland Browns, who have opened up a two-game lead on Pittsburgh with three weeks remaining. Virtually all of the Steelers’ playoff probability is wrapped up in the sixth and seventh seeds.

Pittsburgh has already lost critical head-to-head playoff tiebreakers against the Houston Texans and Colts, but the club will have an opportunity to complete a season sweep on the Cincinnati Bengals when they face the red-hot QB Jake Browning in Week 16.

Steelers’ Week 16 Playoff Scenarios

QB Kenny Pickett, sidelined by an ankle injury since Week 12, has a chance to return against the Bengals on Saturday. If Pickett can’t go, the Steelers will roll with QB Mason Rudolph instead of QB Mitchell Trubisky, who struggled over the past two weeks.

Regardless of who’s under center, Pittsburgh likely needs to win out to have any chance at a Wild Card berth.

MORE: PFN’s Week 16 Power Rankings

However, going 3-0 down the stretch might prove difficult, especially given that the Steelers will face the NFL’s fourth-hardest schedule by DVOA to close the campaign. This features matchups against the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens after this week’s tilt with Cincinnati.

If the Steelers beat the Bengals, their playoff odds will increase to roughly 8%. In an ideal world where every other AFC Wild Card contender falls in Week 16, Pittsburgh’s odds would rise to 17% or so. HC Mike Tomlin’s club would exit this week’s action as the seventh seed in the AFC behind the Browns and Colts.

Of course, that’s a far-fetched scenario. The Steelers are home underdogs to the Bengals and both the Buffalo Bills and the Broncos are 7+ point favorites in their upcoming matchups, and the Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars are only slight road ‘dogs in their Week 16 games.

The chances of everything working out in Pittsbugh’s favor this weekend are slim to none.

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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