When the NFL announced the 2022 schedule back in May, they did so once again with the freedom to manipulate the final week of the season in order to place specific matchups in front of a national audience as well as not give one team advantage over another based on knowing the outcome of games that had already occurred. While it is not always possible to schedule games in this manner, the league does attempt to not give a team either an advantage or disadvantage by having key games conclude prior to their kickoff.
The NFL has attempted to do so over the last several seasons, but almost had an epic failure in 2021 as two teams played the final game in what was believed to be a “win and get in” situation. Missing out on how the scenarios could play out, the NFL almost gave two teams the opportunity to choose to play to a tie so they both made the postseason. Luckily the Las Vegas Raiders chose to kick a field goal at the end of overtime against the Los Angeles Chargers which allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the 2021 postseason.
Hoping to miss a similar situation again, the NFL had already made a questionable decision with their Saturday lineup they previously announced for Week 18. In the 4:30 PM matchup, the Kansas City Chiefs will be visiting the Las Vegas Raiders. There is still the potential that the outcome of this game could affect the need for the Buffalo Bills to defeat the New England Patriots on Sunday. If that is the case, it could ruin the playoff chances of both the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But this is still only a possibility.
The other game which was previously announced for Saturday night at 8:15 PM will be for the AFC South championship with the Tennessee Titans traveling to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Whoever wins this game will win the division.
As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they are slated for a 1 PM kickoff at Acrisure Stadium as they host the Cleveland Browns for Week 18.
Although the most important part of the Pittsburgh Steelers having a chance to qualify for the 2022 postseason is for them to win their game against the Browns, the other two games which have to go their way are the Buffalo Bills have to defeat the New England Patriots and the New York Jets must defeat the Miami Dolphins. With these games all dependent on the results of the others, they have all been slated for a 1 PM kickoff.
Even though the NFL has announced all of the kickoff times, there is still a potential for one change. If the Buffalo Bills defeat the Cincinnati Bengals tonight on Monday Night Football, the Ravens and Bengals will be playing for the AFC North championship. For this reason, the game will be moved to 4:25 PM if this is the case. If the Bengals defeat the Buffalo Bills tonight, they lock up the AFC North and the game with the Ravens will be played at 1 PM.
With the Steelers starting off their season 2–6 before the bye week, they lost the opportunity to control their own destiny early on. On the other hand, the fact of the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the hunt for the postseason after such a rough start really is a testament to the team’s resilience. While things may or may not fall their way to qualify for the postseason, the Steelers simply need to take care of what they can control and end the 2022 regular season with a victory over the Browns.
Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued coverage as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to face the Cleveland Browns in the regular season finale at Acrisure Stadium this Sunday at 1 PM.