Pittsburgh's 31-28 loss to New Orleans on Sunday dropped the Steelers to 8-6-1, now behind the 9-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North standings and behind the 9-6 Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts in a potential wild card shakeup. In short, the Steelers need a Week 17 win, and need the Ravens to lose for Pittsburgh to win the division.
Beyond that, it gets a little hairy (and involves needing a tie).
After that 52-21 romp, the Steelers barely squeaked past the Jaguars, lost to the Broncos in Denver, allowed the Chargers to erase an early deficit and leave Pittsburgh with a win, slipped up (literally) against the Raiders in Oakland and ground out a close win over the Patriots. Steeler Nation would tell you the win over New England was the turning point -- that is, until New Orleans came back and beat Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"We made the bed, we'll lay in it," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Sunday. "I'll expect us to lay in it very well and perform. We'll control what it is that we can control and that's our preparation to play next week. All other things out of our control, we won't worry much about.
"Like everyone else, we've had 15 opportunities to this point to state a case for ourselves so we won't lament about our positioning. We'll just simply control the things that are in front of us, and that's next week's preparation and play."
Play they will, and they'll hope their division rivals to the southeast do as well. It might be their only hope.