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Monday, December 14, 2009

Cloudy AFC playoff picture

The Steelers' season remains on life support as despite their 5-game losing streak, they're still alive - technically - in the AFC playoff race.

This coming weekend should help clear the picture up a great deal.

Jacksonville (7-6) hosts Indianapolis, which will continue to play its starters - at least this week. And next week, the Jaguars travel to New England before finishing up at Cleveland.

Miami (7-6) travels to Tennessee (6-7). A loss by the Titans would end their playoff hopes, while a loss by the Dolphins would make things difficult for them considering they have to host Houston (6-7) and the Steelers (6-7) to finish things off.

The Jets (7-6) host Atlanta (6-7) before travelling to Indianapolis next week and finishing up with Cincinnati. That's a pretty tough road, though the Colts and Bengals could be resting some people.

Baltimore (7-6) hosts Chicago this week before coming to Pittsburgh in Week 16. The Ravens head to Oakland in Week 17.

After hosting Miami this week, Tennessee heads to San Diego in two weeks and finishes up at Seattle.

And Houston has games with St. Louis and New England sandwiching the game with the Dolphins.

One of that group of teams will win the final playoff spot in the AFC.

Jacksonville currently owns the best conference record at 6-3, which could come into play in a three-way tie. But the Jaguars would need to beat either Indianapolis or New England to get to 9-7. It's possible, but not likely.

Miami has a tough road as well, starting with this week's game at Tennessee, where the Titans have won four games in a row. Houston and its high-octane passing attack could also cause troubles for Miami's soft secondary.

The Jets have been up-and-down behind rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, who's likely to return this week. I don't trust them to win two of their final three at all.

Which brings me to Baltimore. It may not be what Steelers fans want to hear, but I expect the Ravens to at least get to 9-7. Though Baltimore is just 2-4 on the road this season, the Ravens have a 6-4 conference record. They should beat Chicago this week and though I think the Steelers will give them a tough battle and could beat them in Pittsburgh in two weeks - neither team ever wants to lose to the other - I would expect them to win in Oakland to get to 9-7, at worst.

In tiebreakers with two teams, head-to-head is the first consideration. Next is conference record. If there is still a tie, best won-loss record in games against common opponents, with a minimum of four is considered.

If that still doesn't settle things, strength of victory is considered.


Derek said...

taht means that, assuming we win out, and if it comes down the the #6 being between baltimore and pitt, pit would lose unless balitmore also loses to either oakland or Cincy. so, season is officially over......

Dale Lolley said...

That is likely the case. And you mean Chicago, not Cinci. The Ravens could lose at Oakland - they're 2-4 on the road this season - but it's not likely.

Anonymous said...

I think Baltimore gets it. Make ONE play in any of our losses, and it could've been us.

marc said...

doesn't really matter. ravens or steelers both lose in the first round against a real playoff team.

and, do you really think the steelers will win out? crazy talk.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...beating three competitive teams in a row?

But you never know, we all "like the fight in those guys."

Dale Lolley said...

I don't think anyone suggested the Steelers would. In fact, I think the only game they'll win is against Baltimore. That will be a pride game.

Vaflyer said...

You know I really hope these guys play more than 1 game for pride. As crazy as this sounds....yeah I know I am smoking something and wearing rose colored glasses, but I think they can win out. Troy will be back....right? I look at it this way.

1. Green Bay - Ben was HORRIBLE against Cleveland. He likes bounce back games. It would not surpise me if he had a HUGE game.

2. Ravens - Okay, this is just a game where we HATE the opposition and they are coming to our turf. Playoffs or not, we want to win that one.

3. Miami - I guess I look at this one as possible depending upon what the other teams have done. This team could be playing for its playoff lives, maybe they don't scoreboard watch, or don't need to...and they simply need to win. Maybe it is Miami vs. Pitt for the final spot. If it is I think they have a shot.

Dale Lolley said...

They gave up 171 yards rushing to Cleveland and eight sacks.
The mor I think about it, the more I think the second loss to Cincinnati really did this team in.
A lot of the guys were down and saying the playoffs weren't a possibility after that game. Then they went out and played the next two to make sure that was the case.

Anonymous said...

Dale, then you need to have a talk with your buddy Wex. He's the only person on the planet who thinks the Steelers have played the last 5 games with the same urgency, passion, and focus as they did the first 8 games.

Anonymous said...

In no way do I expect the Steelers to win out and have the other dominoes fall in place to give them the 6th seed. But if it would somehow happen, they would be on a roll again, probably have Troy back, and be playing Cincy for the 3rd time. If that hypothetical situation would happen, they're not losing to the Bengals a 3rd time. But it won't matter anyways, they won't win out.

Dave in Cbus said...

It's dire...that's for sure, but I think it's not as dire as you seem to state.

Steelers can still make the playoffs as the 5th seed IF all of the following happen; they are the 6th seed if all but one of the following happens:

Of course, the Steelers must win out, which is probably more far fetched than the following scenarios...(current record…then remaining games)

Teams in the AFC Wild Card Hunt:
DENVER (8-5) must lose 2 games…Oak, @Phi, KC. (lose head to head TB with Steelers)

BALTIMORE (7-6) must lose 2 games…Chi, @Pit, @Oak (only one loss gives Baltimore the division record TB)

JACKSONVILLE (7-6) must lose 2 games…Ind, @NE, @Cle (if they only lose 1, they hold better conference record TB)

NEW YORK (7-6) must lose 2 games…Atl, @Ind, Cin (if they lose just one to the Bengals, we’d tie for Conference Record and Common Opponents Record TBs, next TB is strength of victory, I have no idea how that’s determined. If they lose only one to Atl or Ind they finish ahead of the Steelers based on conference record or common opponents respectively)

HOUSTON (6-7) must lose 1 game…@Stl, @Mia, NE (if they win out they beat Steelers by common opponent TB)

MIAMI (7-6) must lose to the Steelers (of course, the Steelers must win out)

TENNESSEE (6-7) is Out against Pit (if they win out they lose the head to head TB to the Steelers)

Denver and Baltimore have the easiest schedules so it will most likely be them that make it into the playoffs. I think Jacksonville will lose their next 2 and NY will lose 2 if not their last 3.

As bad as the Steelers have looked this team is not a team without talent. Despite the losing streak and the awful losses to awful teams this same team has also defeated Denver (easily), San Diego and the Minnesota Favre’s. There are a lot of Ifs, for sure, but I won’t quit rooting for the Steelers even if they’re mathematically eliminated, I certainly won’t stop while there’s still a chance, no matter how far fetched. Crazier things have happened. And once you're in the playoffs, the records mean nothing. Just ask the 2005 Indianapolis Colts.

**I reserve the right to be wrong on my playoff scenario calculations**

Anonymous said...

Dave -- I've got it the same as you. My biggest doubt is the Steelers ability to win 3 -- all the rest seems fairly likely or at least semi-probable.

Mike said...

Looks like "God" Whisenhunt really had his team playing well last night. "Guru" Grimm's O-line was getting killed, and I saw "Savior" McFadden get burned for a TD.

I'm not hating on them (I'd love to have McFadden back on the team about now), I'm just pointing out that they're not as infallible as all the revisionist Steelers fans would like to believe.

Dave in Cbus said...

good point Mike...I appreciated the dose of reality that last night's Arizona defeat provided.

We can't look to what could have been, and the grass isn't always greener on the other's greenest where you water it. And we need to do some serious watering, but it's not for lack of talent.

Coach 'em up or get some coaches who can coach 'em up.

Anonymous said...

Fact of the "mattter", Whiz is still going to the "playoffs" and """"we aren't""""". "That's the point."

Too bad Titans got off to such a terrible start, they'd be great team to watch in the playoffs, CJ is awesome.

Farmer Fran

Mike said...

And Whiz isn't missing his best player like the Steelers are. And he plays in a division with the Rams and Seahawks. The Niners aren't particularly dominant, and he even managed to get swept by them.

The two situations aren't the same, it's comparing apples to oranges. To suggest that we should have hired Whiz because he'll make the playoffs this year with another team is just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Mike i agree with our point but lets be honest, we are in a division with Cleveland as our perpetual whipping boy (until a week ago). And Whiz was playing with an injured Larry Fitzgerald so both teams have their demons. Nevertheless, I don't think the Steelers are a very good team right now. The mathematical probabilities indicate they have a chance but the last time they were in this situation they were on a roll heading into the playoffs...this time they're in a free fall.

marc said...

this might be off topic, but i'm tired of hearing jaworski on MNF and others proclaiming the NFL is "now a passing league."

ESPN team stats only go back to 2002, but the entire league passed for 108,661 yards and rushed for 59,459 yards in 2002. that's a 65/35 split. that is also the most passing yards for the entire league since 2002.

the pass run ratio has been right near 65/35 almost every year, including this year. i'm gonna go find data that goes back further, but i think it's a myth the league has morphed into a passing league.

yes, teams may pass more on 1st down or come out with more passing type formations, but to be successful you need to pass and run together.

but, this irks me because i can see arians making the same arguement that the steelers need to keep up with the rest of the league and attack with the pass.

what arians fails to realize is that he is part of the reason we could not hold leads in the 4th quarter this year. if our offense could put together a methodical, time eating drive and run the ball we would have limited other teams' opportunities to score. but no, we still come out passing, lengthen the game and give the other team more chances.


Patrick said...

From the PG and Tomlin's transcript:

"On the second third-down play, the snap either came too soon or the quarterback mistakenly expected it to come later. Tomlin blamed the noise from the "Dawg Pound." "

are you kidding me? Thats his excuse. There was hardly anyone at the game and half of them were Steelers fans.

Its cliche, but teams are a reflection of their coach. With assanine answers like this, 6-7 starts to seem right.

When you screw up, blame it on the crowd noise. That'll fix things.

Anonymous said...

That's the reporter's interpretation, Patrick. Read the full transcript. Tomlin is only trying to be helpful at this point -- smart move.

As for the Steelers-Ravens game, I think the Steelers are a LOCK. Mark it down. Get your bets in now. Double them if they lose to Green Bay. The Steelers will take out every last one of their BS frustrations out on that overrated pile of pus.
Book it now. And remember you read it on Dale's blog first.