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NFL playoff picture: Somehow, Steelers still control playoff destiny

The Pittsburgh Steelers can still make the playoffs with a pair of wins in the final two weeks of the regular season, as they will hold a tiebreaker over the Cincinnati Bengals if they can catch them in the standings with a win next week.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers may be a game behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the standings after a second straight disappointing loss, but with a pair of wins, they're guaranteed a trip to the postseason.

Losses to San Diego and in overtime in Dallas haven't eliminated Pittsburgh from the postseason. In fact, next week's matchup between the two AFC North squads essentially amounts to a playoff game for Pittsburgh. Lose, and the postseason is an impossibility. Win, and the Steelers hold a tiebreaker over Cincinnati by virtue of winning both regular season matchups against the Bengals, and head into the last week of the season tied at 8-7 with the Bengals. That would allow Baltimore to clinch a playoff spot with a win over Houston - a team that will likely be resting their starters - in Week 17.

They'd be able to make the playoffs at 8-8 with a win over Cincinnati and a loss to Houston, but then they'd have to bank on the Bengals losing as well as the play of the New York Jets down the stretch, as they could potentially finish at 9-7. Pittsburgh also holds the tiebreaker over the Jets, so they don't need to worry about missing the playoffs if they finish tied.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.