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NFL playoff picture: What does Raiders-Steelers mean for AFC standings

The Raiders face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of Heinz Field prior to the AFC Wild Card Playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns on January 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Results update: The Raiders have lost control of their own destiny, while the Steelers never really had control of theirs. If the Dolphins and Chargers both win/tie, the Raiders and Steelers both get eliminated. If even one of those teams loses, both teams are still alive in the AFC. The margin for error is so slim, which is why this Saturday night game was so important for both sides.

Pre-game update: The Raiders and Steelers got some help on Saturday. The Patriots and Titans lost, which gives both Pittsburgh and Las Vegas a chance to climb the standings with a win on Saturday night. The Steelers and Raiders could both move into eighth place with a win due to conference record tiebreaker

The Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers close out Christmas Eve football on Saturday with an evening game on NFL Network. The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET and is effectively an elimination game. The Steelers would be knocked out entirely with a loss while the Raiders would need some additional things happening. Pittsburgh is a two-point home favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Raiders playoff picture

Las Vegas is 6-8 and tied with the Browns and Steelers in the wild card race. Cleveland has the divisional tiebreaker over Pittsburgh and then the Raiders have the conference record tiebreaker. All three sit two games back of the Chargers and Dolphins for the final two wild card berths, with the Patriots, Jaguars, and Jets all in front of them.

If the Raiders win, they would move into a tie with the Jaguars and Jets. They would be ahead of the Jets due to conference record and behind the Jaguars due to head-to-head record. They would not be able to eliminated from playoff contention with a win. If the Raiders lose, they could be eliminated from playoff contention if the Chargers win or tie against the Colts and then either the Dolphins win or tie vs. the Packers or the Patriots win or tie vs. the Bengals.

Steelers playoff picture

The Steelers are 6-8 and tied with the Raiders and Browns in the wild card race. The Browns beat the Steelers once to claim the head-to-head edge for now. The Steelers would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss. If they beat the Raiders, they can still be eliminated by wins by the Dolphins and Chargers, or wins by the Chargers and Patriots and a Dolphins tie.

If Pittsburgh beats Las Vegas, they could climb no higher than 11th due to losing tiebreakers against Jacksonville and New York.

Tiebreaker implications

There is the head-to-head tiebreaker between these two, but it’s unlikely that becomes a factor. This would also implicate conference record and common games tiebreakers.