Mon, Dec 9, 2019

Well, well, well. Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Steelers were dead, here comes Mike Tomlin’s team, resurrected in the playoff race and currently sitting as the No. 6 seed in the AFC. That seems impossible given where they were just a few weeks ago, losing game after game and knowing Ben Roethlisberger was done for the year. 

At one point, Duck Hodges was starting a game in Los Angeles for a 1-4 team. Things were storming down the darkest timeline at a rapid pace. Since then, with Minkah Fitzpatrick leading the way on a rejuvenated defense, the Steelers have won four straight games with an unexpected formula. 

Mea culpa from me: the Fitzpatrick trade looks like a pretty smart move right now. I never like trading future picks, and I really don’t like doing it when the team involved could end up with a top-10 pick (that’s just the reality of 1-4). But Kevin Colbert and Tomlin believed the team was closer than it appeared to turning things around. Now the Steelers are 5-4 with a bunch of winnable games on the schedule.

They draw the Browns, Bengals and Browns again over the next three weeks before playing the Cardinals, Bills and Jets. The Steelers shouldn’t even be counted out of the divisional race, not with the Ravens playing the Texans, Rams and 49ers over the next three weeks. 

This would be a remarkable comeback story if they’re able to make the postseason. If the season ended today, they would do just that. 

AFC: Who’s in

1. New England Patriots (8-1)

The Patriots are on a bye this week. 

A wild Week 10 is almost in the books and there’s a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break everything down on the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast. Listen to the full show below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.

2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2)

The Ravens smashed the Bengals on Sunday with Lamar Jackson uncorking one of the great runs by a quarterback you will ever see. Baltimore has the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots, so you better believe they’re trying as hard as possible to chase that top seed in the AFC. Jackson might very well be the MVP 10 weeks into the season.

3. Houston Texans (6-3)

The Texans are on bye this week.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

The Chiefs were upended in shocking fashion by Ryan Tannehill and the Titans on Sunday, doing some serious damage to their hopes of walking down the Patriots or the Ravens for a first-round bye.

5. Buffalo Bills (6-3)

The Bills were also stunned, but by the Browns, with Baker Mayfield leading a game-winning drive to upend Buffalo. The Bills were considered one of the worst 6-1 teams in NFL history two weeks ago and now they have started to look more like a mediocre club over the last two weeks. They’re in the danger zone for the playoffs with other AFC teams surging. 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)

Well, HELLO THERE. The Steelers are a living, breathing Undertaker GIF at this point, winning four straight games after a horrific start to the season. The trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, routinely mocked for a basement team giving up a first-round pick, looks awesome as the safety managed to score another touchdown on Sunday. Mason Rudolph is managing games and Mike Tomlin is working his way into the Coach of the Year conversation. 

AFC: Who’s out

7. Oakland Raiders (5-4): A huge Thursday victory over the Chargers and a loss by the Chiefs on Sunday set up the Raiders with a legitimate chance to win the AFC West. Roll that around in your brain. 

8. Indianapolis Colts (5-4): Disastrous loss to the Dolphins at home on Sunday for a team that finds itself in a surprisingly crowded AFC playoff hunt. 

9. Tennessee Titans (5-5): The Titans stunned the Chiefs and gave their division and playoff hopes some serious life. Ryan Tannehill is going to save some jobs and make himself some money if he keeps playing like this.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5): The Jaguars are on bye this week.

11. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6): The Chargers continue to find new ways to disappoint, including a horrific loss to the Raiders on Thursday.

12. Denver Broncos (3-6): The Broncos are on bye this week.

13. Cleveland Browns (3-6): Huge win late against the Bills to keep this season alive, but the Browns are running out of time. 

14. Miami Dolphins (2-7): Tanks for nothing, Joe Burrow. 

15. New York Jets (2-7): The Jets humiliated the Giants and it might get Pat Shurmur in a little bit of hot water. 

16. Cincinnati Bengals (0-9): Unquestionably the worst team in football this year. 

NFC: Who’s in

1. San Francisco 49ers (8-1)

Down goes San Francisco! Down goes San Francisco! The 49ers fall from the ranks of the unbeaten after a wild game on Monday night that featured just about everything. You can viably question whether or not Kyle Shanahan should have played for a tie during overtime because of what it could mean for him in terms of playoff seeding and a division battle. Now the 49ers have some work to do in order to secure not just the division but also a top seed/bye/homefield.

2. Green Bay Packers (8-2)

The Packers held off a feisty Panthers team in frosty conditions on Sunday for a crucial home win that saw Davante Adams start to produce like a true No. 1 receiving option again, a very good sign after his return from injury. Green Bay needed to rebound after being thumped by the Chargers out in Los Angeles on Sunday and they did just that. With the Saints losing, the Packers jump up to the No. 2 spot and are tracking for a first-round bye. The Packers head into their bye knowing everything is in front of them thanks to the some tasty matchups on the other side. If the 49ers stumble, Green Bay could get home-field advantage.

3. New Orleans Saints (7-2)

Ugly home loss to the Falcons on Sunday, a mistake that might cost the Saints dearly come playoff time. The loss at least kept the Panthers in the hunt for the division race and it also gave the Packers a serious advantage in terms of trying to lock up a bye. The Saints are still very much in the hunt here, but that was a strange aberration for a team that has been rolling for more than a month now. 

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)

The Cowboys find themselves in a bit of trouble all of a sudden. This was a rough loss on Sunday night that absolutely keeps the Eagles in the divisional hunt. Dallas had multiple chances to beat the Vikings and made play-calling/coaching mistakes late. Jerry Jones cannot be thrilled.

5. Seattle Seahawks (8-2)

The Seahawks took down the the 49ers on the road Monday night behind a pretty impressive and gutty effort by Russell Wilson despite being pummeled by the 49ers defense early and often. Seattle’s defense showed up in a big way on a large stage and produced some points and turnovers for Seattle to get them right back into the hunt for a division title.

6. Minnesota Vikings (7-3)

The Vikings won a huge game in the NFC playoff race on Sunday, going to Dallas and taking down the Cowboys. The NFC wild-card battle is going to be heated, and the Vikings needed this one to keep pace with the Packers as well.

NFC: Who’s out

7. Los Angeles Rams (5-4): The Rams laid an egg in Pittsburgh, reminding us that their opponents before the bye that they beat up on had questionable defenses. Jared Goff is really struggling right now.

8. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4): The Eagles were on bye this week.

9. Carolina Panthers (5-4): The Panthers fought valiantly but they couldn’t keep up with the Packers in snowy Green Bay. They have a bunch of divisional games coming and need to rip off some wins to ensure they stay in the hunt.

10. Chicago Bears (4-5): The Bears got a must-win victory against the Lions, who were missing Matthew Stafford. They’re not in good shape, but if Mitchell Trubisky can play a little better they can make a run.  

11. Detroit Lions (3-5-1): Another tough loss for the Lions, who are not going to be a viable playoff contender without Stafford healthy. 

12. Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1): It feels like the Cardinals continually have “good losses,” with Kyler Murray playing well and the team managing not to close.  

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6): The Buccaneers won despite Jameis Winston doing Jameis Winston things.

14. Atlanta Falcons (2-7): Enormous win over the Saints for Dan Quinn to keep his job … for now.

15. New York Giants (2-8): Daniel Jones looked good and the Giants still couldn’t manage to beat the Jets. 

16. Washington Redskins (1-7): The Redskins are somehow favored next week! What a world. 

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