The potential Pittsburgh Steelers playoff matchups are changing by the week. As the team tries to end its three-game slide against Indianapolis, it is also looking ahead a bit because they have already assured themselves a playoff spot. Getting healthy is the number one plan for this team. especially since the Steelers are likely settled in as the No.3 seed for the AFC playoff picture, with Kansas City taking the bye. There are various routes for the playoffs to go for Pittsburgh’s road to the Super Bowl, including getting back to the two-seed. Luckily, Pittsburgh has already beaten a few of the possible Steelers playoff matchups. On the other hand, there are also a few teams that have been a nightmare for Pittsburgh in the past.
It’s no secret that the NFL can change week-to-week. For example, Pittsburgh was cruising to an undefeated season and the No.1 seed and they entered a game as huge favorites against the Washington Football Team. Washington and Alex Smith destroyed their perfect record and sent the Steelers on a losing streak. They haven’t been playing great football on offense as of late and are being butchered with injuries to their defense. No matter what, they are in the playoffs are will host at least one game. People say you can win a game with defense but you can’t win a Super Bowl with one. Well…you can’t win at all when your receivers drop passes and you have no run game.
Mike Tomlin has proven he can lead his team out of (mostly) any corner and come out with a win. He’s even done so without much of a running game and several key injuries to the linebackers and secondary. As the possible Steelers playoff matchups become more and more clear, Tomlin knows this is the time of the year to “turn it on”, and will have this team ready to play.
Likely Steelers Playoff Matchups
Miami Dolphins (All-time Record 13-11)
At the start of the season, this would have been chalked up to an easy start of the Pittsburgh playoff path. That is no longer the case as Miami has a defense that can rival even Pittsburgh’s. Tua Tagovailoa is playing as a capable QB in the league and could poke holes in this depleted defense. After just eliminating the Patriots from contention, it could be a repeat come wild-card weekend. Of all of the potential Steelers playoff matchups, however, this one would be the most enticing. A rookie quarterback would get eaten alive by this defense in January.
Baltimore Ravens (All-time Record 27-23)
If it doesn’t end up being the surging Dolphins, it could be the team Pittsburgh has only narrowly beaten twice this year in division rival Baltimore. The first game ended with Minkah Fitzpatrick breaking up the GW TD. The second game didn’t even feature Lamar Jackson but the Ravens almost lead a comeback victory anyway. If Miami loses out and Baltimore jumps them in the order, this will be the matchup (Barring a Buffalo loss). Their front seven is missing some big players and the Ravens have a chance to run all over them. On the contrary to the previous paragraph, of all of the potential Steelers playoff matchups, this one is the scariest for Pittsburgh fans.
AFC South Runner-up
This is the current opponent as we finish Week 15 and is an interesting potential playoff game, more so if it ends up being the Colts. Pittsburgh plays the Philip Rivers-led team in Week 16 and could have to face them again two weeks later. That may not mean much, except for the fact that Indy has been playing their best ball of the year as of late. Rookie RB Jonathan Taylor is someone who has finally found his stride late in the season and Frank Reich is calling a great game. Still, Philip Rivers has a knack for losing big games. Out of the two, Pittsburgh should hope for Indy over the Titans.
Tennessee suffered their first loss to Pittsburgh in a close game earlier in the year. Since then, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry have been the front runners of the offense as they look to win the AFC South title. If the Colts somehow knock off the Steelers next week and the Titans fall to Green Bay, it comes down to Week 17 where both teams will be favored against a division rival.
Cleveland Browns (All-time Record 75-59-1)
The last of the likely potential Steelers playoff matchups could be a very familiar one, the Cleveland Browns. As an added bonus, these two teams will also face off in Week 17. To be frank, it will probably come down to that game as well. If Cleveland loses out, Baltimore will likely jump them for the spot. If they win, however, and Miami doesn’t have a better record, then you get back-to-back weeks of Cleveland vs Pittsburgh. It’s going to be a battle come Week 17 and both sides will still be feeling the effects of it. It will be interesting to see how much the teams want to “give away” as far as a strategy if they knew they would be playing a playoff game against each other just one week later.
Long-shot Steelers Playoff Matchup
Las Vegas Raiders (All-time record 10-13)
Unfortunately, Las Vegas is the only other potential playoff match-up… barring the Steelers losing out. If they somehow make it in and play Pittsburgh, there is hope for them. In the form of luck anyhow. The Raiders have been a thorn in Ben Roethlisberger‘s side for several years, somehow finding ways to win as the underdog on multiple occasions. The downside is that coaching is costing them games and Derek Carr could miss this upcoming game. Pittsburgh would relish the opportunity to face the Raiders, no matter who is under center, but it is still a long shot.
I appreciate any and all the readers on my piece about the potential Pittsburgh Steelers playoff matchups. This is the first of many articles to come with Overtime Heroics. For more content and articles, follow me on Twitter @WesKeeferPSN.