Bob Smizik: Steelers have slim playoff hopes

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Scoreboard-watching moves to new levels today as the Steelers play their season finale needing not only a win over Cleveland but a win by three other teams in order to make the playoffs.

It's a near-impossible scenario, but there is a small degree of hope. That is something, by the way, which I insisted did not exist several weeks ago. An amazing confluence of circumstances have served to prove me wrong. The Steelers need more of the same today.

While the Steelers and Brown play at 1 p.m., Miami will playing the New York Jets and Baltimore will be at Cincinnati. The Steelers must win and they need Miami and Baltimore to lose. At 4:25, Kansas City is at San Diego. The Steelers need San Diego to lose.

If all that occurs, four teams will be tied at 8-8 and the Steelers win the tiebreaker.

• Of the four games, the one with the best chance of going wrong for the Steelers is the one between the Dolphins and the Jets in Miami. The Dolphins beat the Jets by 20 on Dec. 1. They followed that up with wins over New England and the Steelers. But with a chance to clinch a playoff berth last week they stunningly lost, 19-0, to Buffalo. The Dolphins remain a clear favorite to win, but a team that can lose by 19 at Buffalo can lose to anybody.

• As recently as eight days ago, the Ravens would have been considered to have a good chance of winning at Cincinnati. But following last week’s 34-point loss at home to New England, they don’t look so good. With a chance for a first-round bye in the playoffs, the Bengals have much to play for

• In San Diego, the Chiefs, who are locked into the fifth playoff spot in the AFC, and have little to play for. According to reports in Kansas City, starting quarterback Alex Smith might play only a few series. Compound that with the fact the Chargers won by three in Kansas City on Nov. 24 and this is not a rosy scenario for the Steelers.

The schedule for the day makes the Steelers chances of winning a playoff spot the longest of longshots. But to get to this day with still a chance also was the longest of longshots.


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