The NFL season is headed down the stretch towards the playoffs. The Steelers are currently battling for playoff position, seated atop the conference with upcoming games against the Titans (currently 1 game behind) and Patriots (currently tied atop the confernce). Thursday night’s game carries tremendous importance for the Steelers to be able to not only hold on to the top spot in the conference but solidify an important tiebreaker against one of the top teams from the AFC South.
Last Week: Defeated Indianapolis 20-17
This Week: vs Tennessee (Thursday Night)
The Steelers-Titans game is a big matchup between two division leaders. The Steelers need a win to stay ahead of the AFC South leaders in the race for a first round bye. The Steelers have 5 of their last 7 games at home and this is the start of a string of 6 straight games in prime time or at 4:25.
Last Week: Defeated Denver 41-16
This Week: vs Oakland (in Mexico City)
The Patriots schedule is backloaded with games against divisional opponents. This game against Oakland and their game against Pittsburgh are the only two non-divisional games remaining on New England’s schedule. Including this game at a neutral site (which counts as a “home” game for the Raiders), four of New England’s last seven games are on the road.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at New York Giants
The Giants are coming off a loss to the winless 49ers in the Darnold Bowl. This is the last game for the Chiefs against an NFC opponent this season.
Last Week: Defeated Cincinnati 24-20
This Week: at Pittsburgh (Thursday Night)
The Titans and Jaguars are tied atop the AFC South and are just 1 game behind the conference leaders Pittsburgh and New England. If the Titans win in Pittsburgh, they can insert themselves into the race for a first round bye with a relatively soft schedule (@IND, HOU, @ARI, @SF) over the next 4 weeks.
Last Week: Defeated San Diego 20-17 in a comedy of errors
This Week: at Cleveland
The Jaguars have won 4 of their last 5 games to draw even with the Titans atop the AFC South. The Jaguars also have a win over the Steelers which could come into play for a seeding tiebreaker if the Jaguars top the Titans for the AFC South title. The Jaguars have a relatively easy schedule over the next 3 weeks with games against the Browns, Cardinals, and Colts.
Last Week: Lost to the Saints 47-10 in a game where the Saints ran for a bazillion yards
This Week: at Los Angeles Chargers
The Bills are clinging to the last playoff spot thanks to a hot start to the season but have lost two in a row. Things don’t get much easier after this week as they have games against Kansas City and New England.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Green Bay
The Ravens have struggled through injuries this season but still have a shot to sneak into the playoffs because of the weak bottom of the AFC North. After their December 10th date with Pittsburgh, the Ravens close with 3 easy games against Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Don’t be surprised if they make a late-season run.
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs New England (in Mexico City)
The Raiders have won 2 of their last 3 since Derek Carr returned from injury. Their schedule does not do them any favors down the stretch with trips to Kansas City and Philadelphia and a road game against the Chargers to close out the season. The Raiders are getting better but have a head-to-head loss to Baltimore which could come into play in the playoff race.
Last Week: lost to Carolina 45-21
This Week: vs Tampa Bay
The Dolphins have lost 3 in a row but have some opportunities in a bad AFC to make a run at the playoffs. After this week’s game against Tampa they face New England 2 out of the following 3 weeks then get Buffalo in 2 of the last 3 games of the season.
Last Week: Lost to Tampa Bay 15-10
This Week: Bye
It’s strange that the Tank-For-Darnold Jets are even on this list, but it goes to show that the Jets can’t even execute a tank properly. The Jets have one of the most difficult remaining schedules with games against Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, and New England after their bye week.
Houston, Cincinnati, LA Chargers, and Denver are 3-6. Indianapolis is 3-7. Cleveland is 0-9.
Houston’s promising start to the season was derailed with Deshaun Watson’s ACL injury. The Chargers have been close to winning often but haven’t been able to close out games. Denver’s once-great defense is suddenly incredibly porous and the Bengals are, well, the Bengals.