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Steelers climb back into playoffs despite consecutive losses

Despite not playing Sunday, the Steelers find themselves up two spots in the AFC playoff race.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It’s been a rough week for the Steelers. After a second straight loss to a two-win team on Thursday against New England, the Steelers are now 7-6, and fell out of the AFC playoff picture.

However, they now find themselves holding a Wildcard spot, once again, after getting help on Sunday. The division-rival Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 34-14, pushing the Colts out of the No. 6 seed. The Houston Texans were also stunned by the New York Jets, losing 30-6 on the road, which knocked them out of the No. 7 seed.

Both losses pushed Pittsburgh back into the current playoff picture as the No. 6 seed, with the Jake Browning-led Bengals now holding the No. 7 seed after winning two straight.

The Steelers will face the Colts on Saturday in Indianapolis, which could end up being a de facto playoff game, with the loser having a very difficult road to getting into the playoffs.

AFC Standings ahead of Week 14 MNF

1. Baltimore Ravens (10-3)

2. Miami Dolphins (9-3) — Play on Monday Night Football

3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5, win over JAX)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5, loss to KC)

5. Cleveland Browns (8-5)

6. Pittsburgh Steelers*+ (7-6, win over CIN)

7. Indianapolis Colts*+ (7-6, win over HOU)

8. Houston Texans*+ (7-6, loss to IND)

9. Denver Broncos+ (7-6)

10. Cincinnati Bengals*+ (7-6, loss to PIT)

11. Buffalo Bills+ (7-6)

12. Los Angeles Chargers# (5-8, win over LV, win over NYJ)

13. Las Vegas Raiders# (5-8, loss to LAC, win over NYJ)

14. New York Jets# (5-8)

15. Tennessee Titans (4-8) — Play on Monday Night Football

16. New England Patriots (3-10)

Given the number of tied records in the AFC playoff standings, here’s a look at the tie breakers and how they shake out:

* In the multi-way tiebreaker at 7-6, you need to get down to one team per division first.

  • Pittsburgh has a win over Cincinnati, and Indianapolis has a win over the Texans.
  • The Steelers and Colts move on to the first group of the tiebreaker.

+ Once we get to the Steelers, Colts, Broncos, and Bills, it goes to AFC record.

  • The Steelers and Colts are both 5-4, so they go against one another. Pittsburgh wins on record in common games.
  • Indianapolis, Denver, Buffalo, and now Cincinnati go to a four-way tiebreaker, which the Colts and their 5-4 AFC record win.
  • The Broncos, Bills, Bengals, and Texans now go to a four-way tiebreaker, which the Texans win on their 4-4 AFC record.
  • The Broncos, Bills, and Bengals go to a three-way tie, and the Bills & Broncos advance based on their AFC record before Denver bears Buffalo thanks to a head-to-head win.
  • Buffalo and Cincinnati go to a head-to-head tiebreaker, which the Bengals win thanks to their victory over the Bills.

# The Chargers and Raiders go to an AFC West tiebreaker first, which the Chargers win because they’ve beaten Las Vegas.

  • The Chargers and Jets go to a tiebreaker and Los Angeles wins that head-to-head, as well.
  • The Raiders and Jets go to a tiebreaker, which the Raiders win on head-to-head.