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Around the AFC North: Ben Roethlisberger Reportedly Plans to Play in 2021

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger Not Ready to Call it Quits

Ben Roethlisberger is reportedly planning to play at least one more season.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for their Monday Night Football game in Cincinnati, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the 38-year-old Roethlisberger plans to play in 2021. That would be Roethlisberger's 18th NFL season, and it's the final year of his current contract.

Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh said Roethlisberger has always intended to play next year barring injury.

However, Dunlap also paid homage to Roethlisberger's longevity and success. The Steelers have won two Super Bowls with their future Hall of Fame quarterback and have never had a losing season since he joined the team in 2004.

The AFC North has been blessed with an influx of talented young quarterbacks, starting in 2018 when the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson and the Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield, and continuing this year when the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Joe Burrow. Mayfield and Burrow are No. 1-overall picks and Jackson is the reigning league MVP.

However, Roethlisberger is keeping up with the young guys. He has the most passing yards (3,292) and touchdown passes (29) of any quarterback in the division, while being sacked the fewest times (11).

Roethlisberger can't play forever, but he's still playing well. After missing almost the entire 2019 season with an elbow injury that required surgery, Roethlisberger has played every game this season and the Steelers entered Monday night with an 11-2 record, having already clinched a playoff spot.

They have dropped two straight, but even if they can't overtake the Kansas City Chiefs (13-1) for top seed in the AFC, the Steelers are gunning for another AFC North title, which would secure homefield advantage for their playoff opener.

Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett Still Experiencing Coughing Spells

Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett was candid about his bout with COVID-19 after the Browns (10-4) celebrated their victory over the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Garrett missed two games in November on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, but the impact of the virus still lingers with him.

"I am just getting over a coughing fit in the locker room earlier," Garrett said via team’s official website. "Taking those big deep breaths are tough right now with the shortness of breath and that turning into cough or getting choked up. You just have to find a way. It's about desire. It does not matter how I feel, I have to do something on the field. When I get off the field, I can catch my breath and maybe go see someone and try to work with someone. Hopefully if we make it to the playoffs, I can try to get myself as close to 100 percent as possible."

Garrett's playing time has steadily increased since returning three games ago, from 72 percent of the defensive snaps in his first game back, to 90 percent, to 91 percent Sunday night. The hope in Cleveland is that Garrett will continue to get stronger down the stretch, as the Browns move closer to clinching their first playoff appearance since 2002.

Cincinnati Bengals: Zac Taylor Not Giving Into Negativity

After drafting Burrow first overall, Cincinnati had higher hopes for this season after finishing 2-14 in Zac Taylor's first year as head coach. But Burrow is out with a season-ending knee injury and the Bengals (2-10-1) have lost five straight entering tonight's game. Head Coach Zac Taylor is not letting any speculation about his future shake his confidence.

"That might be hard to believe given our track record of wins and losses, but there will be unbelievable days ahead and I'll remember these days," Taylor said via "I think a lot of people will forget them when we're playing for championships and playing for division titles and you're seeing great things on the field from our guys."

No matter what happens after the season, Taylor said the Bengals' results would force him to take a hard look at his approach.

"You have to be critical of yourself," Taylor said. "You have to be critical of some things you really believe in strongly."

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