Nov 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) and defensive end Brett Keisel (99) react after Heyward registered a sack against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers somehow still in race for AFC wild card


An NFL team with a 3-6 record usually has little more than token hope for a miracle playoff run, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have something to play for, improbably.

When the Detroit Lions come to Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon, the Steelers will be a win away from having some serious influence in the AFC playoff race. Following its victory over Buffalo last week, Pittsburgh is two games behind the 5-4 New York Jets for the conference’s final wild-card berth.

While the Steelers still have six teams in front of them in the chase for the AFC’s No. 6 seed, if they can top the 6-3 Lions they have back-to-back games against mediocre AFC North foes Cleveland and Baltimore to further make up some ground. Getting to 6-6 by the end of November seems like a tough task, but if the Steelers do get there they will be at least even with the Browns and Ravens.

Of course, there’s no guarantee the Jets will lose ground over the next two weeks, as they have the Bills and Ravens up next on their schedule. The group at 4-5 (Miami, Tennessee, San Diego, Cleveland, Baltimore) isn’t particularly inspiring, but then again, the Steelers haven’t been either. Then there’s the matter of Oakland, also at 3-6 and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker with Pittsburgh.

Starting an NFL season with four straight losses and six in the first eight games is almost a guarantee of an empty postseason. Fortunately for Mike Tomlin’s group, the AFC playoff chase has fallen short of scintillating so far.

A team that has failed at least three so-called “must-win” tests this season will face another at 1 p.m. Sunday. It’s a near mathematical certainty that another defeat in such a spot will make 2014 a lot more relevant for the Steelers than 2013, if it isn’t already.

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  • Carl Eagan

    Sunday’s win over Buffalo think about it they have slowed down from their decent start a rookie QB who is rusty after being out for a month should be easy right? Under Tomlin the Steeler’s normally lose these kind of games. Detroit represents a different breed and although the Steeler’s have the talent and ability to beat them they also had the ability and talent to beat the pat’s but that didn’t happen. Beating the lions would represent a turnaround and possibly the Steeler’s would move out of a top 5 draft pick. The reality is that under Tomlin this team has been anything but consistent and disciplined and I would be pleasantly surprised if they continue to play like they did this past Sunday.

    • Matt Gajtka

      I live in Michigan so I see a good bit of the Lions. It’s a pretty good bet both teams are going to score their share of points Sunday. Can’t be settling for field goals this week.