The New England Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins 27-20 on Monday Night Football. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, that opens the door not only to the top of the AFC, but they could even force Tom Brady and the Patriots to play an extra game.
“[Because] of the Dolphins win last night, the Steelers can knock the Patriots to the No. 3 seed on Sunday,” wrote James C Wexell of Steel City Insider.
The Steelers are sitting at 11-2, and already have clinched the AFC North. The Patriots are now 10-3. They still lead the weak AFC East, but they’ve slipped below the Steelers in the conference standings, giving up that potential No. 1 seed. The Steelers now control their own fate. If they just win out, they can hold that spot.
If the Patriots lose and the Jacksonville Jaguars win over the weekend, they’ll be tied at 10-4.
“One unexpected outcome out of last night: If the Steelers beat the Patriots on Sunday night, Pittsburgh clinches home-field advantage throughout the playoffs,” wrote NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “Could chill for three weeks.”
That’s almost true, and perhaps likely. But there is still one thing the Steelers would need to play for.
“I thought so, too,” wrote NBC’s Mike Florio. “A reader correctly pointed out that the Jaguars could still catch the Steelers for the No. 1 seed.”
Granted, the Steelers play the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns. Those are both games they could win if all they’re trying to do is hold off the Jaguars. They could certainly ensure that the path to the Super Bowl goes through Pittsburgh, not Foxborough.