May 30, 2024

Heading into Week 13 of the 2023 NFL season, the Steelers looked to be in good shape. They had put together a record of 7-4 and were coming off a key win over the Bengals that gave them the upper hand in the AFC North’s race for second place.

That had many believing that the Steelers could potentially challenge the Ravens for the division crown. After all, they had games coming up against the Cardinals and Patriots, two of the worst teams in the league; so, why wouldn’t Mike Tomlin be able to clinch yet another non-losing season against those foes?

Well, those games didn’t turn out to be as easy as many prognosticated. The Cardinals thoroughly beat them in a 24-10 romp while the Patriots dropped 21 on them in the first half after scoring just 13 in their previous three games combined. Pittsburgh pushed its way back into the game but ultimately lost to New England 21-18. And on Saturday, Pittsburgh made it three straight defeats, falling 30-13 to the Colts, a fellow wild-card contender.

Those losses have made Pittsburgh’s path to a playoff post far more difficult. They have a tough schedule remaining against other postseason hopefuls, and appear to have few answers for an offense that has been silent for most of the season.

POWER RANKINGS: How far do Steelers fall after losses to Cardinals, Patriots?

Here’s what to know about the Steelers’ playoff chances after they continued their losing skid against the Colts in Week 15.

Steelers playoff picture
The Steelers entered Week 15 of the 2023 NFL season as the conference’s No. 6 seed with a record of 7-6. Following the loss to the Colts and the Broncos’ loss to the Lions, Pittsburgh is now No. 10 at 7-7 and the Steelers will remain their following Sunday’s action.

Currently, the Steelers would have the inside track to a postseason berth if it can get back into a tie with the cluster of teams that entered the week at 7-6. Why? Because they have several favorable tiebreakers that currently includes head-to-head wins against the Bengals and a better conference record than the Bills and Broncos.

That said, the Steelers falling to beat Indianapolis makes their path to the playoffs much more complicated. Pittsburgh still plays the Bengals one more time, but it now has lost head-to-head games to wild-card contenders like the Texans, Browns and Colts.

So, the Steelers will have to work hard to win a wild-card berth, and that will be their only way into the postseason. Barring Pittsburgh winning out and Baltimore losing out — not to mention the Browns not winning at least two more times — the Steelers will not be able to win the AFC North.

MORE: How Steelers-Patriots covered historically low over/under in just one half

Steelers remaining schedule
The Steelers entered Week 15 with the eighth-toughest remaining strength of schedule for the 2023 NFL season. They exit it with the sixth-toughest schedule remaining for the 2023 regular season, according to Tankathon, with a mark of .600. Pittsburgh’s opponents have a combined record of 32-22 and they are facing just one team with a losing record — the 6-7 Seahawks — and that will come on the road.

Below is a look at Pittsburgh’s schedule over the final three weeks of the season.

Week Opponent Record
16 vs. Bengals 8-6
17 at Seahawks 6-7
18 at Ravens 10-3
Given that the Steelers have lost three games in a row, it stands to reason that they could struggle to find consistency against these higher-caliber teams. Perhaps Kenny Pickett will eventually be able to return, or Mitch Trubisky will get in a rhythm. But after their loss to the Colts, it seems like there are other teams with better playoff chances than the Steelers.

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Steelers’ updated playoff chances
The Steelers entered the week with a 25.3 percent chance to make the playoffs entering Week 15, according to Sporting News’ projection model for the NFL season, and it took a mighty plunge after losing to the Colts, falling all the way down to 9 percent. That was already down from the 57.4 percent chance they entered Week 14 of the season before their loss to the Patriots.

Pittsburgh is quickly entering the state where every game is looking like a must-win. Falling to the Bengals in Week 16 would all but doom their playoff hopes altogether, particularly with a pair of challenging road games still left on the schedule, even if the Ravens are resting starters by Week 18.

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