By: Bill Washinski
The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Sunday with potential to clinch a playoff berth Monday. They just needed to win and an Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins or Las Vegas Raiders loss or tie.
We saw none of the three happen and we had a chance to observe. Quite frankly, the AFC has some very good teams that are also very awful. Really, it’s anybody’s guess as to what team shows up for which half, much less which game.
The Raiders avoided a serious “embarrassment” by nearly ruining the New York Jets quest to go 0-16.
Is this the team that nearly swept the Kansas City Chiefs? They needed a 43-yard TD pass with 13 seconds left to beat a team who’s 2020 slogan has been Tank for Trevor Lawrence? Is this the team that Colin Cowherd couldn’t stop slobbering over with his “Raiders Are Back” embarrassment take because they were in a close game against Kansas City, yet scrutinizes everything the Steelers have done all year long?
One “could” say the Colts hung on to beat the Houston Texans – but I’m not quite sure either team was awake the entire 2nd half. The Colts are just not a team that anyone should fear. Phillip Rivers is almost certainly going to be future endeavored at the end of the season as he’s done little more in Indianapolis besides pad his career stats.
The Dolphins performance against the Joe Burrow-less Cincinnati Bengals just exposed them as a pretender and the exact reason the expansion to a 7-team playoff is a horrible idea. When Tua Tagovailoa said he “expected it to be a lot harder” someone should pull him aside and make him watch this 60-minue abhorrence, which I had locally and wanted to rip my eyes out of their sockets rather than watch.
While the outcomes did not result in a manner where the Steelers could be the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot – let’s be honest: clinching a playoff spot is moot. Any team that struggles to make the playoffs after an 11-0 start isn’t going anywhere once it starts, so if this team is sweating it out in a few weeks, we’ve got problems.
The AFC North could not be clinched officially regardless of the Cleveland Browns vs. Tennessee Titans outcome. Nobody has paid attention as the Browns have quietly played their way back into contention, so credit given where it’s due. But the Browns have already played the “fool me once” card, so they have to show it when it counts. In probably the biggest Browns game since 2007, they came out like a team on a mission setting team records in the 1st half. But the 2nd half they came crashing back down to Earth and in combination with the Titans screw-ups, they did just enough to win and looked more like the “Same Old Browns.” Let’s see what they do when they have to face off against a desperate Baltimore Ravens team next week.
Tune in next week to see more of “What team shows up?” and hopefully, the Steelers clinch the AFC North.