The Steelers are on their bye this week, which, given the number of injuries with which they've been dealing, is much needed.
More importantly, they'll come out of their bye week with a game Oct. 28 against the Dolphins. That actually means they'll get an extra day of rest because of that Monday night game.
At 2-4, they're currently on the outside looking in at one of the six playoff spots in the AFC. But they could gain ground on that this weekend just sitting at home.
Here's a look at this weekend's games and how they might affect the Steelers in order of importance:
Ravens (4-2) at Seahawks (5-1): This one has obvious implications. The Ravens sit in first place in the AFC North. The Seahawks are a game behind the 49ers in the NFC West. A loss by Baltimore would move the Steelers within a game of first place in the loss column. And the Ravens are through the easier portion of their schedule. They have a bye after this game, then host the Patriots. They also have games remaining in Week 11 against the Texans, Week 12 at the Rams, Week 13 against the 49ers and Week 14 at the Bills. That's a tough stretch. That's why the Steelers' loss to the Ravens in overtime two weeks ago was a big one. A loss in this game gives the Ravens three. There are some others still remaining on that schedule. This one will come down to the quarterback play. And Russell Wilson is playing better than any quarterback in the league.
Jaguars (2-4) at Bengals (0-6): This isn't about the Bengals. It's about the Jaguars. The Steelers don't play Jacksonville this season, but they could wind up in a battle for a Wildcard spot with the Jaguars. I know, it sounds strange to be talking about two 2-4 teams still being in the Wildcard hunt, but that's this year's AFC. As things currently stand, a three-win team would be in the postseason in the AFC. Surprisingly enough, Jacksonville's run defense is the worst in the league. Can Joe Mixon get going enough in this one -- behind a terrible offensive line -- to help the Bengals stop the Gardner Minshew show?
Texans (4-2) at Colts (3-2): Steelers fans should want the Texans to win this one. The Steelers host the Colts in a few weeks, so they'll get an opportunity to get a head-to-head victory over Indianapolis. That certainly won't be easy. The game against the Colts is one of the few remaining on the Steelers' schedule where they won't have a decided advantage with their defensive line against the opposing offensive line.
Raiders (3-2) at Packers (5-1): The Raiders have been one of the surprises of the early season, putting together a 3-2 record largely with smoke and mirrors. It seems like every pass catcher is on the injury report this weekend for the Packers, so that could give the Raiders a fighting chance in this one. The Raiders have wins over the Colts and Bears in their past two games and are coming off a bye. This is one the Steelers need them to lose, though Oakland does still have games remaining against the Texans, Chiefs, surprisingly tough Lions and Chargers (twice).
Chargers (2-4) at Titans (2-4): This is a tough one since the Steelers have a tiebreaker advantage over the Chargers based on their win last week. But Steelers fans should probably be pulling for the Titans in this one. Los Angeles is a better team than it has showed and is capable of putting things together and going on a winning streak. So this is a case of kicking the Chargers when they're down. And the Titans just aren't good enough offensively to be a serious challenge in the AFC, especially considering they would have to play the Chiefs, Colts, Texans (twice) and Saints down the road.
Patriots (6-0) at Jets (1-4): The Jets were terrible without Sam Darnold. But he's back and they're also getting more healthy, getting C.J. Mosley back this week, for example. If they can somehow win this one Monday night, they'll find themselves right back in the thick of things in the AFC.
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