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11-21-2006, 03:57 AM
Road to the playoffs

By The Tribune-Review
Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The Steelers got an elusive road win Sunday in Cleveland and have won two consecutive games for the first time this season, which explains why they aren't thinking playoffs just yet.
"It's definitely too early right now," nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "We've won only four games this year."

At 4-6 and with a Hampton-sized game looming this Sunday at Baltimore, the Steelers probably have to get to .500 before they utter the "p" word.

Catching Baltimore and winning the AFC North is probably too much to ask, though the Steelers have two games against the Ravens. And one of the conference's two wild-card spots probably will be claimed by either San Diego or Denver.

The Steelers still appear to be in the running for the second wild-card spot, though they realistically can lose one more game, at the most.

Here's a look at the Steelers' chances of winning the division or getting into the playoffs as the second wild-card team:

AFC North

Baltimore (8-2, 5-1 in the AFC)

Even if the Steelers win the rest of their games, the Ravens have to lose four of their last six for the former to win the division. The Ravens appear to be an unlikely candidate to collapse. They field one of the best defenses in the NFL and have a dangerous kick/punt returner in B.J. Sams. Meanwhile, bruising running back Jamal Lewis has become a force since coach Brian Billick fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel and started calling plays.

Remaining schedule - Sunday vs. Steelers (4-6), Nov. 30 at Cincinnati (5-5), Dec. 10 at Kansas City (6-4), Dec. 17 vs. Cleveland (3-7), Dec. 24 at the Steelers, Dec. 31 vs. Buffalo (4-6).

Steelers (4-6, 3-5)

Based on their play this season, there isn't a game left on the schedule that the Steelers can't win -- or lose. Things start to get interesting for the Steelers if they knock off the Ravens on Sunday and then beat the lowly Buccaneers the following week at Heinz Field. The turnovers and special-teams breakdowns that largely contributed to the team's slow start also may prevent the Steelers from making a serious run at the playoffs.

Remaining schedule - Sunday at Baltimore (8-2), Dec. 3 vs. Tampa Bay (3-7), Dec. 7 vs. Cleveland (3-7), Dec. 17 at Carolina (6-4), Dec. 24 vs. Baltimore, Dec. 31 at Cincinnati (5-5).

Wild card

Denver (7-3, 7-2 in the AFC)

The Broncos probably will win at least 10 games and maybe 12, given how favorable their schedule is despite remaining games at Kansas City and San Diego. The Steelers shouldn't be concerned with Denver, which is almost a lock to claim the AFC's No. 1 wild-card spot if it doesn't overtake San Diego and win the AFC West.

Remaining games - Thursday at Kansas City (6-4), Dec. 3 vs. Seattle (6-4), Dec. 10 at San Diego (8-2), Dec. 17 at Arizona (2-8), Dec. 24 vs. Cincinnati (5-5), Dec. 31 vs. San Francisco (5-5).

Kansas City (6-4, 2-4)

The Chiefs missed the playoffs in 2005 after going 10-6 and have two things working against them this season: A not-so-kind schedule and their record against AFC opponents. If the Steelers and Chiefs tie for the No. 2 wild-card spot, the Steelers would win the tiebreaker.

Remaining games - Thursday vs. Denver (7-3), Dec. 3 at Cleveland (3-7), Dec. 10 vs. Baltimore (8-2), Dec. 17 at San Diego (8-2), Dec. 23 at Oakland (2-8), Dec. 31 vs. Jacksonville (5-4).

Jacksonville (5-4, 3-3)*

The team that started the season with Super Bowl aspirations has problems in the passing game and is beat up on defense. Whether the Jaguars can get to 10 or even nine wins remains to be seen. They do hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers.

Remaining schedule - Monday night vs. N.Y. Giants*, Sunday at Buffalo (4-6), Dec. 3 at Miami (4-6), Dec. 10 vs. Indianapolis (9-1), Dec. 17 at Tennessee (3-7), Dec. 24 vs. New England (7-3), Dec. 31 at Kansas City (6-4).

Cincinnati (5-5, 3-3)

Quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Chad Johnson must continue their sizzling play if the Bengals are to overcome a shaky defense and stay in the playoff chase. The back end of their schedule doesn't help the defending AFC North champions.

Remaining schedule - Sunday at Cleveland (3-7), Nov. 30 vs. Baltimore (8-2), Dec. 10 vs. Oakland (2-8), Dec. 18 at Indianapolis (9-1), Dec. 24 at Denver (7-3), Dec. 31 vs. Steelers (4-6).

New York Jets (5-5, 4-4)

The Jets have already exceeded their win total from last season, and there's no reason to think that one of the NFL's most surprising teams this season will falter. None of the six teams left on the Jets' schedule has a winning record and have a combined mark of 21-39.

Remaining schedule - Sunday vs. Houston (3-7), Dec. 3 at Green Bay (4-6), Dec. 10 vs. Buffalo (4-6), Dec. 17 at Minnesota (4-6), Dec. 25 at Miami (4-6), Dec. 31 vs. Oakland (2-8).

Miami (4-6, 2-5)

The surging Dolphins have won three consecutive games, but they may find that, ultimately, like the Steelers, they buried themselves with a horrendous start. Should a team that starts Joey Harrington at quarterback be considered a playoff contender? We'll find out. The Steelers are in good shape in regards to various playoff tiebreakers when it comes to the Dolphins.

Remaining schedule - Thursday at Detroit (2-8), Dec. 3 vs. Jacksonville (5-4), Dec. 10 vs. New England (7-3), Dec. 17 at Buffalo (4-6), Dec. 25 vs. N.Y. Jets (5-5), Dec. 31 at Indianapolis (9-1).

Tiebreakers

Division (two teams)

1. Head-to-head. 2. Better winning percentage in games played within the division. 3. Better winning percentage in games played against common opponents. 4. Better winning percentage in games played against AFC opponents.

Division (more than two teams)

1. Best winning percentage among the teams that are tied. 2. Best winning percentage on division games. 3. Best winning percentage in games played against common opponents. 4. Best winning percentage in games played against AFC opponents.

Wild-card (two teams)#

1. Head-to-head. 2. Better winning percentage in games against AFC opponents. 3. Better winning percentage in games against common opponents, if there are at least four such contests.

Wild-card (more than two teams)#

1. Head-to-head sweep, if applicable. 3. Best winning percentage in games against AFC opponents. 4. Best winning percentage in games against common opponents, if there are at least four such contests.

* - Monday's Jaguars-Giants game didn't finish in time for this edition.

# - If there are two teams tied from the same division, then the division tie-breaker is applied.

- By Scott Brown


http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_480710.html

IamTheSteelGod
11-21-2006, 05:59 AM
Technically it's still not over! All we have to do is win all our games from now on, and hope the Jags 6-4 , Bengals 5-5, Jets 5-5 and the Bronchos 7-3 go on a losing streak!

Well, we will worry more about the Jags and Bronchos!

stlrtruck
11-21-2006, 07:35 AM
Really, who cares about the playoffs at this point. I'd rather see them come out with the "We may be out of it, but we're going to spoil you and your fan's Sunday" mentality, ONE GAME AT A TIME!!!

19ward86
11-21-2006, 07:56 AM
this road is ten times harder than last years run...we have 1 reliable reciever, 1 reliable RB, 1 reliable O line, not much happening on the D line, 1 reliable secondary guy(troy) i just dont think ike taylor is one of the best, he is good but not someone extremely reliable. he has gave up plenty of big plays this year.

HometownGal
11-21-2006, 08:20 AM
Technically it's still not over!

Nope- it's not and as long as they still have a shot, though it looks pretty bleak, I'm going to keep on believin! :tt02:

tony hipchest
11-21-2006, 09:01 AM
just for conversations sake (assuming we can win 6 more games in a row):

jax is who we need to wory about. denver is in. jax needs to lose to indy, patriots, and the chiefs (it could happen)

kc- lose 2 of these 3 games: san diego, denver, and baltimore. but they need to beat jax. (very plausible)

cinci- lose 2 of the following: indy, denver, baltimore, steelers. (this is very likely to happen)

jets need to lose 2 and they have a very favorable schedule. at miami and at green bay are their 2 toughest games. but will they win 5 of 6? (not likely to happen)

miami- needs to beat jax but lose to new england or indianapolis. they always play the pats tough once and get indy on the final game of the year when they will probably be resting their players. the miami jets game could be interresting. (who knows how this will play out)

it is definitely possible for all these scenarios to happen. but if the steelers lose 1 game we can forget about it.

good thing is, the last 2 years they have ended the season on 14 game and 8 game winning streaks so they have the experience to fall back on. bad thing is the ravens have beaten the steelers atleast once in both these seasons. that was w/o mcnair.

Sharkissle29
11-21-2006, 12:28 PM
you have to figure that SD/DEN is a lock for one spot....the only team i'm worried about now getting our second wild card is Jacksonville, and the bengals...however i really dont think the bengals are gonna have a vey good record with that tough end of the year schedule. we have the tiebreaker over KC, so we just need them to lose one more.

it's not over until it's over....