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A Yinzer’s Guide to Week 16 in the NFL

We are in the home stretch of the NFL season, and we have a heckuva slate of games to look forward to. The best of all: The Steelers host the Ravens, with the fate of the AFC North in the balance. But wait, there’s more...

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Top Three Storylines that Might Affect the Steelers

  1. Somewhere in this equation, 3 plus 2 equals 2. Sunday night’s game between the Chiefs and Broncos in Kansas City could be enormous. Coupled with an Oakland loss, a Chiefs loss would put the Steelers just a single game out of the number-two seed in the AFC. It’s not the most likely thing in the world, but a recently surging Colts team is headed to Oakland. Should both teams lose and the Steelers beat the Ravens, the Steelers would then need a second Oakland loss in their season finale to the Broncos — in Denver. If that happens, and the Steelers beat both Baltimore and Cleveland, Pittsburgh will sneak in to the second seed.
  2. I’m not sure the laws of physics even allow such a situation. Steelers fans ought to be Buffalo fans this week, and that’s just for starters. That’s because they play the Miami Dolphins, and if the Steelers are going to have a backup plan should they lose to Baltimore at home on Sunday, that’s pretty much it. If that does come to pass, the Steelers need the Dolphins to lose to Buffalo this week and to New England next week, while hoping Denver and Tennessee each lose one more and the Chiefs lose their remaining games. See why a Steelers victory is critical this week?
  3. Payback is a dish best served with Heinz Ketchup. But let’s assume best-case for a moment. Should the Steelers win this weekend, and take care of business at home against the Browns net week, Pittsburgh will likely face either Miami or Denver. There’s payback due in either circumstance — and this time, the game would be in Pittsburgh.

Best Game of the Week with No Hypocycloids

Denver @ Kansas City

Next the Baltimore @ Pittsburgh, no game has more on the line. The playoff fates of both teams hang in the balance, as the Chiefs are clinging to a wild-card spot while the Broncos are clinging to a sliver of hope. Kansas City still has a shot at the two-seed, while Denver is a full game behind the Dolphins.

Worst Game of the Week, a.k.a., SOMETHING

San Francisco @ Los Angeles

One statistic will tell you exactly how terrible this game is: the six AFC playoff teams have a combined points differential of +240. The 49ers and the Rams have a combined points differential of -301.

Five Pointless Points

  1. Fun with Numbers: the Raiders, Steelers and Chiefs are the only teams left with a shot at the two-seed in the AFC. The Dolphins could theoretically tie with the Steelers, and they hold the tie breaker, but it is no longer possible for the Dolphins to win the AFC East. Since the top four seeds automatically go to the four division winners, the Dolphins could do everything right, and the difference between the two-seed and the five-seed simply be that they have the misfortune of being in the same division as the Patriots. If that sounds at all familiar, then two things are true about you: 1) you are a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, and 2) you hate Major League Baseball’s single-game wildcard playoff as much as I do.
  2. A simple solution to the issue of draft prospects skipping bowl games: make their scholarships dependent upon their participation in bowl games unless injured. If they don’t play but are deemed healthy, they are required to pay back all their athletic scholarships, with interest.
  3. Let’s assume for a moment that Pittsburgh wins the AFC North this weekend by beating the Ravens. Should they get all the way through to the Super Bowl, there are only two NFC teams I really want to play: Dallas and Green Bay. The reasons should be obvious.
  4. This is probably the best primetime game schedule all season. Consider it an epic Christmas present. On Thursday, we have the Giants and Eagles. Yes, the Eagles are bad, but it’s in Philly, and the teams usually have some great (albeit sloppy) football games. Sunday night, it’s the Chiefs hosting the Broncos with significant playoff implications, and Monday night the NFC East-leading Cowboys take on the NFC North-leading Lions. Couple that with the Steelers and Ravens at 4:30 Sunday afternoon, and it looks like we are finally going to have an epic weekend of football from start to finish.
  5. Vontaze Burfict’s jagoffery is in full bloom, with several more beyond-questionable moments Sunday against the Steelers. Thanks for helping derail your team’s season yet again, sir. Look on the bright side: at least this year, you won’t have to spend four quarters on wildcard weekend wondering how your team will implode this time — because it’s already been taken care of!