Are you a Steelers fan? Can’t wrap your head around rooting for the Cleveland Browns to beat the Baltimore Ravens?
Then you might want to pray for a tie game in Tennessee.
Following a late season stumble which includes losing four of their last five outings, the Pittsburgh Steelers are now themselves looking from the outside in through the 2018 playoff window. On the bright side, the Steelers aren’t eliminated.
At least not yet, that is. Aside from a victory by the Cleveland Browns over the Baltimore Ravens, which also assumes the Steelers handle the Bengals as well, (which shouldn’t be a problem as the Bengals are a mess and the online sportsbook Bovada and dozens of others have listed the Steelers as two-touchdown favorites) there’s only one other way Pittsburgh can make it to the postseason.
Should the 4:25 ET time kickoffs conclude with a Steelers victory and a Browns victory, the Steelers are in.
However, if the Steelers win and the Browns lose, all eyes in the Steel City will turn toward the late game, a Sunday Night Football clash between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. The last ditch effort for a Pittsburgh playoff berth would mean the Colts and Titans game ends in a tie.
Although it is unlikely, the shortened overtime rules this season has produced more tie games than ever in the NFL.
If there ever was a statistical opportunity for an end of season tie, it would be in Tennessee in Week 17. Marcus Mariota and the Titans have scored 23 points per game while at home this season.
Andrew Luck and the Colts have put up 23 while on the road.
When I say 23, I mean 23: not 23.1 or 22.8. exactly 23.00 points!
Late Lines and Questions
As some of you know, I don’t always put much stock in bookies and betting on games. Yet, there’s something very odd surrounding this one when you look at what’s going on with the gamblers.
This leaves even more questions needing to be answered… so much so that sportsbooks have avoided putting lines out for this game. Only one book (BetOnline) has published and then dropped odds (at the time of writing) and they didn’t put them out until late on Tuesday.
BetOnline had the Colts as 2.5-point favorites on the road. This leads me to believe they have some inside info that Mariota will play. Upon handicapping the game and considering how sportsbooks artificially inflate lines, if Mariota were to sit, the Colts would likely be at least a field goal favorite or more. (Probably -4.)
With a playoff berth in the balance, there is too much on the line for Mariota to sit. However, even if he plays, will he be one-hundred percent? The Tennesee offense could be hampered and have to rely more heavily on their defense … which isn’t the end of the world.
The Titans have been solid at home when it comes to defense. In fact, they are the third in home scoring defense in the league. The Colts are obviously going to throw the ball downfield, and QB Andrew Luck has the ninth passing offense in the league.
Yet the Titans are tenth in shutting down the pass.
Could see a tightly contested and potentially low-scoring battle? As a Steelers fan in the worst case scenario, you may hope so… but on the other hand, the game could still end up a tie regardless.
The Indianapolis Colts have been giving away 23.43 points per game on the road: that number is enhanced by their recent shutout win over the Cowboys. The Colts followed that performance up last week by giving up 27 points to the New York Giants.
In other words, this could be a close, close game.
Should the Browns not give the Steelers the assistance they desperately need, then the only other hope is that this Colts/Titans game will go into overtime: and end in a tie.
If that happens and the Steelers beat the Bengals earlier too, then the Steelers will take that final AFC playoff spot with a tiebreaker over both of the AFC South teams playing on Sunday night.