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Around the AFC North: Steelers Shuffling Quarterbacks, Hodges Expected to Start


Steelers: Pittsburgh Has Playoff Hopes, But QB Issues

Sunday wasn't a good day for the Steelers, losing 17-10 to the New York Jets and being held to 10 points for the second straight week. However, Pittsburgh's playoff hopes are still alive.

The Steelers' playoff scenario has several potential twists. Pittsburgh can't get into the playoffs unless the Tennessee Titans lose Week 17 against the Houston Texans. However, if the Steelers win in Baltimore and the Titans lose, the Steelers are in.

The Steelers can still make the playoffs with a loss in Baltimore, but several other things must happen, including the Titans losing and the Indianapolis Colts beating the Jacksonville Jaguars.

All the Steelers can do is root against Tennessee and try to win Sunday in Baltimore. Beating Baltimore will take better quarterback play than the Steelers got Sunday against the Jets. Devlin Hodges started against the Jets, but he was benched after throwing two interceptions. The Steelers scored their 10 points with Mason Rudolph at quarterback, but he suffered a left shoulder injury in the third quarter which forced him out of the game.

As of Monday afternoon, Head Coach Mike Tomlin had not named a starter for Sunday's game in Baltimore.

"You know, Mason's health is an element of the occasion now," Tomlin said at his postgame press conference, via "Stay tuned."

Browns: Mayfield Won't Weigh in on Kitchens' Future

Baltimore's 31-15 victory in Cleveland eliminated the Browns from playoff contention. It was a disappointing outcome for a Cleveland team that was picked by many before the season to win the AFC North.

The Browns are one of only two teams to defeat the Ravens this season and they have a talented offensive lineup featuring receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, running back Nick Chubb and quarterback Baker Mayfield. Yet, Cleveland has been penalized more than any NFL team except the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Browns (6-9) will have a 12th straight losing season.

That has raised speculation about the job status of Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, in his first season after being promoted from offensive coordinator. Kitchens had never been a head coach at any level before, but the relationship he forged with Mayfield during his rookie season in 2018 was one reason he was promoted.

However, when Mayfield was asked if a coaching change would impact the Browns' progress, the quarterback said it was not this job to determine that.

"That is not my decision to make so whatever happens, happens," Mayfield said. "Moving forward, I know how I am going to handle it getting whatever receiving corps and tight ends we have together in the offseason and making sure we are on the same page so we hit the ground running in the spring – kind of like I hit on earlier in the week – to where there is no room to be made up come training camp. It is a process, but I am looking forward to this group and seeing what we put together and how we work."

Mayfield sounded committed to doing more offseason work to prepare for next season. But the unanswered question remained whether Mayfield will still be working with Kitchens.

Bengals: The No. 1 Pick in Next Year's Draft Belongs to Cincinnati

Losing to the Miami Dolphins in overtime Sunday secured the No.1 pick in next year's draft for Cincinnati (14). Speculation has already begun that the Bengals will draft Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow from LSU, which would give the AFC North its fourth Heisman winner at quarterback joining Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III of the Ravens, and Mayfield.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay has the Bengals taking Burrow with the No. 1 pick.

It seems more and more likely that Andy Dalton's tenure as Cincinnati's quarterback is coming to an end, but he has played well recently. Dalton completed 33 of 56 passes for 396 yards for four touchdowns against Miami on Sunday. The Bengals will host Cleveland in their regular-season finale.

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