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Around the AFC North: Freddie Kitchens' Future Is Uncertain


While the Ravens had the weekend off following their Thursday Night Football win, they watched the rest of the AFC North all take a loss.

Here's the latest news from around the division:

Cleveland Browns: Freddie Kitchens' Job Status Uncertain

The Browns entered the year with massive expectations after a busy offseason assembling one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. But at 6-8, things obviously haven't gone as expected.

That has led to speculation about the job security of first-year Head Coach Freddie Kitchens.

On Sunday morning, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Browns management was standing behind Kitchens and want him to be there long-term. The Browns had won four of their previous five games. Their season was trending in the right direction.

"As of right now, barring a horrific collapse or circumstance to end the season, it appears the Browns will be moving forward with Kitchens," Rapoport wrote.

Then the Browns suffered a dismal 38-24 loss in Arizona on Sunday, which essentially eliminated Cleveland (6-8) from playoff contention. The Cardinals (4-9-1) were riding a six-game losing streak, but they piled up 445 yards on offense.

Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry had a sideline exchange with Kitchens in which he "asked for the ball." Tight end David Njoku was inactive because of a coaching decision. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw an interception for the fourth straight game.

After the game, Kitchens said, "I don't care about my future."

The question now is whether Sunday's loss was part of a "horrific collapse."

"If it doesn't, it gets us a whole lot closer to whatever does," wrote the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Dan Labbe. "The Browns locker room felt like a morgue again on Sunday after the game."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Little Room for Error

The Steelers' path to the playoffs got more treacherous Sunday night after a 17-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills at home, in which quarterback Devlin "Duck" Hodges threw four interceptions.

Pittsburgh still holds the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs, but they're tied with the Tennessee Titans at 8-6. Any slip-up could cost the Steelers a spot.

ESPN’s power index currently gives the Titans a 50 percent chance of getting in and the Steelers a 45 percent chance.

The Steelers hit the road to face the New York Jets next, then finish the season in Baltimore on Dec. 29. Pittsburgh fans will probably be rooting for the Ravens to win Sunday in Cleveland so Baltimore locks up the AFC's No. 1 seed and has less to play for in Week 17.

How would the Ravens handle such a game with the potential to knock their rivals out of the playoffs? It would be interesting to see.

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton's Four Interceptions Underscore QB Change

Many Bengals fans likely tuned into the Heisman Trophy presentation of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

Burrow was the runaway winner of this year's award, and hails from southeast Ohio. With the Bengals in position to have the No. 1-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, it seems like a natural fit.

The other possibility with that top pick would be Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young, but ESPN's Ben Baby says Sunday's 34-13 loss to the New England Patriots shows the Bengals should address quarterback.

"It's unclear if [Sam] Hubbard and [Carl] Lawson will turn into elite pass-rushers, but they've arguably done enough to show the Bengals should pass on Ohio State's Chase Young and draft a QB, if Cincinnati has the first overall pick in the 2020 draft," Baby wrote.

Meanwhile, veteran Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton tied his career-high with four interceptions. Dalton was reinstalled as the starter after rookie Ryan Finley struggled.

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