Updated AFC Playoff Picture: Steelers get back in the hunt, Bills hang on in Week 16

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

Starting Mason Rudolph for the first time this season against a rival Bengals team seemingly getting comfortable with their own backup QB, Jake Browning, the Pittsburgh Steelers seemed to be facing an uphill battle for their postseason hopes in the AFC Playoff Picture entering Saturday night's Week 16 matchup.

Once they took the field, though, the Steelers looked like they were moving downhill instead.

The Steelers completely blasted their AFC North rivals to the tune of a 34-11 win. In doing so, they earned the 2-0 season advantage over the Bengals, moved to 8-7 overall on the season, and improved their playoff hopes dramatically.

How dramatically? Let's take a look at the updated AFC Playoff Picture after the Steelers win and where Pittsburgh now stands.

AFC Playoff Picture after Steelers beat Bengals in Week 16

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-3) - First Round Bye
2. Miami Dolphins (10-4)
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6)
5. Cleveland Browns (9-5)
6. Buffalo Bills (9-6)

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

In the Hunt

8. Houston Texas (8-6)
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)

10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-7)
11. Denver Broncos (7-7)

Eliminated: Tennessee Titans (5-9), New York Jets (5-9), Los Angeles Chargers (5-10), New England Patriots (3-11)

With Saturday's result, the Steelers moved just two spots outside the seven-team playoff field. Meanwhile, they also leapt ahead of the Bengals, who dropped from the No. 6 seed to No. 10, now facing hugely insurmountable odds to make the postseason as Pittsburgh owns the aforementioned head-to-head tiebreaker by sweeping the season series.

To cap off Saturday, the Bills survived an upset bid from Easton Stick's Chargers with a last-minute field goal to get a crucial 24-22 win. With the victory, Buffalo moves to 9-6 on the season and, after being as low as the 11th seed just a couple of weeks ago, is now in the playoff field if the season ended today.

Nothing is decided by any stretch. One thing that's for certain, though, is the Steelers greatly improved their chances. That will only be even truer if they can finish strong with wins in their final two games, though that's a tough task as Pittsburgh will be on the road to face the Seahawks and then the AFC-leading rival Ravens. Buffalo, meanwhile, finishes at home against the lowly Patriots before the Week 18 finale on the road against division-leading Miami.

dark. Next. Bengals to blame for Steelers loss. 4 Bengals to blame for ruining Christmas in loss to Steelers