Breaking down Steelers’ 4 remaining opponents as playoff push continues
The good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers is they remain in the No. 6 playoff position as the NFL schedule hits the home stretch.
The bad news is that three of the remaining four games are on the road, where they have a 2-3 record this season.
The Steelers travel to Arizona on Sunday to complete the non-conference portion of their schedule. After that, they have two games against AFC contenders with a combined 19-5 record sandwiched around one against the lowly New York Jets.
As the playoff talk intensifies, here’s a look at the opponents remaining on the Steelers schedule:
Dec. 8 at Arizona Cardinals
Why Steelers will win: The Cardinals have given up 351 points, second-most in the NFL, which will be a welcomed sight for the offensively challenged Steelers. The Cardinals also have lost five in a row and showed little fight in a 34-7 home loss to the Rams on Sunday.
Why they won’t: Since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007, the Steelers have a 4-12 record in games played in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. They’ve already won once on a cross-country trip this year, when Devlin Hodges was the quarterback against the Chargers. Asking the Steelers to do it twice might be too much.
Dec. 15 vs. Buffalo Bills
Why the Steelers will win: The Bills face the Ravens at home this week, and they may be emotionally spent after gearing up to play the AFC’s top seed. The game also was flexed to prime time, and the Steelers typically thrive at home in such showcase games.
Why they won’t: The Bills are 5-1 on the road, so they won’t be fazed by making the trip to Heinz Field. A win also would keep Buffalo perched as the No. 5 seed and they still could have a shot at catching New England for the division title.
Dec. 22 at New York Jets
Why the Steelers will win: Well, they’re playing the Jets, who haven’t won more than five games in a season since 2015 and just handed the Bengals their first win of the season.
Why they won’t: Until getting upset by the 0-11 Bengals, the Jets had won three in a row to show some respectability. It also will be a grudge match for Le’Veon Bell, who will get a chance to prove to his former team that he was worthy of the guaranteed contract the Jets gave him in free agency.
Dec. 29 at Baltimore Ravens
Why the Steelers will win: The Steelers actually have won two in a row in Baltimore and could be facing a scaled-back version of the Ravens if they’ve sewn up the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The lure of a wild-card spot also likely will be dangling in front of the Steelers.
Why they won’t: The Ravens have proven to be the best team in the AFC, if not the entire NFL, after 13 weeks, and they would like nothing more to sweep their division rivals. The Ravens also may have something at stake if they haven’t already solidified home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .