NFL playoff picture Week 14

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

It's basically impossible to ask Steelers fans to root for the New England Patriots, but if they want their team to advance to the postseason, the Pats will have to top the Phish. If they don't, Pittsburgh will miss the postseason for the second straight year.

It's probably a foregone conclusion now, but the Steelers have not yet been mathematically eliminated from the postseason.

They may not have to play another snap to reach that point though - the fastest they would have done it since 2003.

The Miami Dolphins beat the Steelers in Week 14, and by beating the Patriots in Week 15 (in Miami), the Steelers would be eliminated from the 2013 playoffs. A Steelers loss to the Bengals coupled with a Dolphins loss would achieve the same result.

If the Steelers win, the only hope in that case would be to end the season tied with the Jets and Dolphins - the three-team tiebreaker is set to eliminate one team when two of the three are from the same division. The Jets would have a better divisional record, assuming the Jets would defeat Miami in Week 17, while losing one other game.

That would eliminate the Dolphins from the three-way tie, and the Steelers would top the Jets based on their victory against them in Week 6.

Baltimore, the AFC's current sixth seed, is at Detroit on Monday night. In the event the Steelers win out (putting them at 8-8), and the Dolphins and Ravens lose out (both would be 7-9), and the Jets and Titans lose once in their final three games (giving them a record no better than 7-9), the Steelers would advance to the post season. If not, they'd be assured of drafting no lower than 20 in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Through Week 14, the Steelers are slated to draft 10th overall.

So in essence, Steelers fans who would like to see the team return to the playoffs are rooting for the Patriots (over Miami), the Lions (over the Ravens), the Panthers (over the Jets) and the Cardinals (over the Titans). The Chargers already defeated Denver, putting them at 7-7 on the year.

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