Pittsburgh Steelers: Hopes of First-Round Bye Are Slim After Another Loss
The Steelers' 11-0 start is a distant memory after a second-straight loss, this time to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football, 26-15.
Pittsburgh's offense never got rolling and Ben Roethlisberger threw for just 187 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a back-breaking 51-yard pick six that gave the Bills a lead they never relinquished.
The Steelers defense continues to play well, but Pittsburgh's offense has floundered in back-to-back weeks. A large part of it is an inability to run the ball. The Steelers rushed for just 21 yards against the Washington Football Team last week, then just 47 yards versus Buffalo, despite getting starting running back James Conner and center Maurkice Pouncey back on the field.
"Offensively, we're not very good," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, via NFL.com. "We're not playing good football and that starts with me. So we all need to look in the mirror and understand that we all need to be better. I think that we will be."
With the Miami Dolphins' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Steelers (11-2) clinched their first playoff berth since 2017. But the Chiefs' win and Steelers' loss also knocked Pittsburgh out of the driver's seat for the AFC's top seed and lone playoff bye. At this point, Pittsburgh has only a 5 percent chance of getting the top seed.
The Steelers now trail the Kansas City Chiefs (12-1) and have a tougher schedule with the Colts and Browns remaining. The Bills could surpass the Steelers in the AFC's seeding and if the Browns win on Monday Night Football, the Steelers' chances of winning the division are even in danger.
"The Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the organization, you have to be concerned about what your playoff seeding is going to be," said former Steeler turned ESPN analyst Ryan Clark. "Which one of these teams that are playoff teams can you beat in the first round? … This team is beat up on defense, there's no creativity on offense, there's no explosiveness on offense."
Cleveland Browns: Eager for 'Over-the-Hump' Game vs. Ravens
The Ravens lead the all-time series against the Cleveland Browns, 32-11, and were walloped by them, 38-6, in Week 1 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Heading into the "Monday Night Football" broadcast, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said there's a tangible hunger for the Browns to prove themselves the second time around.
"[This game] means a ton. They know Baltimore has had their number, and they have bullied them and pushed them around for years now," Riddick said on "The Lounge" podcast. "If you just look at the 2020 season, Week 1 was embarrassing. It just was. That was one of those games where most fans would say, 'Yup, those are the Browns. Same old Browns.' They are very eager to shed that perception of them."
The Browns have won four straight and sit at 9-3, in good position to clinch their first playoff berth since 2002.
"This is a huge over-the-hump game," Riddick said. "It would gain a lot of respect for this football team nationally, locally and internally. Now it's not just the 9-2 record, but we've beaten the team that has basically had our number and we can just keep building and ascending from here."
Cincinnati Bengals: Things Get Worse in Fourth-Straight Loss
Following the season-ending injury to top-overall pick Joe Burrow, the Bengals' season has spun out of control. Cincinnati got blown out by the Dallas Cowboys, 30-7, on Sunday. The Cowboys entered the game with the NFC's worst record.
The Bengals (2-10-1) fumbled on their first three possessions and one was returned for a 78-yard touchdown by Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith. Bengals running back Trayveon Williams fumbled when he ran into his own blocker.
In his return to Cincinnati, longtime Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 16 of 23 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Cincinnati is now in position for the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.