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Around the AFC North: Bengals Believe Trey Hendrickson Avoided Serious Back Injury

Cincinnati Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson

Cincinnati Bengals: Hopeful That Injured Trey Hendrickson Won't Miss More Time

The Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) have suffered two straight home losses, but it doesn't appear they will lose Trey Hendrickson for an extended period.

Fifth in the NFL in sacks (12.5), Hendrickson left Sunday's 26-23 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers with a back injury in the second quarter. The veteran defensive end did not return to the game, but ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported that he did not suffer structural damage.

Hendrickson has at least one sack in nine straight games and is the cornerstone of Cincinnati's pass rush. Having him available for the final four games will be crucial for the Bengals, who would be out of the playoffs if the postseason began today. However, the Bengals are still just one game behind the Ravens (8-5) and control their destiny.

Head Coach Zac Taylor said he believes the Bengals are definitely good enough to be playoff team.

"Absolutely," Taylor said via the team’s website. "I don't think anybody wants to play us, quite frankly. We haven't won all the games that we felt like we should've won. But I think our guys have a ton of confidence, and people see what they're about, see the talent we've got in all three phases, and see that we're going to fight to the last second.

"They fight like hell to get back in it and give themselves a chance to win. That speaks volumes about this team, and it's going to serve us well these next couple weeks."

Cincinnati will visit the Broncos (7-6) in Week 15.

Cleveland Browns: Kareem Hunt Likely Will Miss Some Time

.During Sunday's 24-22 victory over the Ravens, Browns running back Kareem Hunt never returned after leaving the game in the second quarter after being tackled by Geno Stone. Hunt went to the sideline with an ankle injury.

"He wanted to try and fight through it, but just didn't think we should put him back out there," Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said.

On Monday, Stefanski said Hunt will likely miss some time, including this Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Browns (7-6) were the only AFC North team that won in Week 14, and they are right in the thick of the division race as they prepare to visit the Las Vegas Raiders (6-7).

Cleveland's victory snapped a four-game losing streak against the Ravens.

Steelers: Pondering Defensive Lineup Changes After Being Roasted by Dalvin Cook

Losing on Thursday night to the Minnesota Vikings gave the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6-1) more time to figure out what's wrong with their defense.

Pittsburgh gave up 176 yards rushing in the first half against the Vikings, and Dalvin Cook ran for 205 yards. It was the most yards any running back has gained against the Steelers since Fred Taylor rushed for 234 yards against them in 2000.

During the game, inside linebacker Joe Schobert was benched in favor of rookie Buddy Johnson, while fourth-year linebacker Marcus Allen saw his first snaps of the season on defense.

Pittsburgh rallied in the second half before losing 36-28 in Minnesota, but defensive end Cam Heyward said the Steelers can't be fooled into thinking their problems are close to being fixed because they almost stole a victory.

"First half was horrendous," Heyward said via Brian Hall of The Associated Press. "Guys weren't filling. We weren't getting off blocks. We weren't tackling. You name it, we did it wrong."

While the late-game drama involving wide receiver Chase Claypool drew plenty of attention, the Steelers' defense has been inconsistent all season. Head Coach Mike Tomlin did not rule out making more lineup changes prior to hosting the Tennessee Titans in Week 14.

"We will not be bashful about turning the stones over," Tomlin said. "We're not whipping enough tail. We're not making the pile fall in the right direction enough. So, I'd be remiss, I'd be doing that group a disservice, if I didn't look at all options. Buddy's an option that has worked, so we played him some."

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