The Pittsburgh Steelers defeating the Baltimore Ravens was as sweet as they come, and it gave the team their second AFC North title in three seasons, but it also locked Pittsburgh into the No. 3 seed in the AFC Playoffs.
It makes their Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns completely meaningless, and gives the team a chance to rest some key players before the AFC Wild Card round. But although the Steelers are locked into the No. 3 seed, and the six playoff teams have been decided, the positioning of those teams is still up in the air.
Let’s take a look at the AFC Playoff Picture:
AFC Playoff Picture
3. Pittsburgh Steelers - 9-5 - Remaining Game: vs. Browns (1-14)
6. Miami Dolphins - 10-5 - Remaining Game: vs. Patriots (13-2)
The only division which hasn’t been decided heading into Week 17 is the ultra-competitive AFC West. The 12-3 Oakland Raiders currently hold the No. 2 seed and the division lead, but with the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football, they’re close to taking the No. 2 spot away from Oakland.
If the Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers in Week 17, and the Raiders lose to the Broncos in Denver without their starting quarterback, the Chiefs would leapfrog the Raiders, claim the No. 2 seed, and get a first-round bye. On the flip side, the Raiders would go from having a bye and hosting a playoff game to being a wild-card team and having to go on the road for the playoffs.
The Steelers will host the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field in the AFC Wild Card game but, if the team can get revenge on the ‘phins, where they’d go after that is anything but certain. They could travel to Oakland, where they haven’t won since 1995, or to Arrowhead Stadium, which is no easy task. Nonetheless, the Steelers have to win the Wild Card game first but, heading into Week 17, the Steelers can rest some key players — and that’s a good thing.