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Steelers Will Start Mason Rudolph at Quarterback vs. Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Seattle. The Steelers won 30-23.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Seattle. The Steelers won 30-23.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mason Rudolph Will Start at Quarterback vs. Ravens

Mason Rudolph will remain the starting quarterback for the Steelers in Saturday's game against the Ravens, Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin announced Monday.

The Steelers (9-7) must beat Baltimore to keep their playoff hopes alive, and Tomlin is riding with Rudolph even though Kenny Pickett (ankle) is expected to be physically available after a four-game absence.

Pittsburgh is averaging 32.0 points per game in two victories since Rudolph took over as the starter. With the season on the line, Tomlin likes how the team has responded to Rudolph, who was 18-of-24 for 274 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in Pittsburgh's 30-23 win over Seattle in Week 17.

"We're going to leave the ball in Mason Rudolph's hands," Tomlin said via the Steelers’ website. "He's done good job and we've done a good job. We've scored points at a rate in which we hadn't done. With the urgency of the moment and because of those reasons, we're going to leave the ball in his hands.

"He's got a great deal of confidence in himself and it is real. I think it's contagious. He's aggressive in style of play and I think that's helpful, particularly when you're up against it."

Tomlin left the door open for Pickett to enter the game off the bench if Rudolph struggles. Pickett was Pittsburgh's starting quarterback in Week 5 against the Ravens and threw a go-ahead 41-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens in the fourth quarter.

"I know Kenny is very capable and particularly as it pertains to this matchup," Tomlin said. "Kenny has led us to victory late in the game the last two times we played Baltimore. We feel like we've got two capable guys. We're going into a hostile environment versus a really good opponent, one that's extremely hot. We better utilize all the mojo that's at our disposal."

Even if the Steelers win, they need Buffalo or Jacksonville to lose in Week 18 to make the playoffs. Tomlin was asked if Rudolph will remain the starter if the Steelers make the postseason.

"It depends on what happens this week," Tomlin said. "We're more of a day-by-day, week-by-week outfit at this point. Hypotheticals and speculation is fruitless for us."

The Ravens (13-3) have already clinched the No. 1 seed and the division title and may elect to rest some starters on Saturday. Tomlin said who the Ravens choose to play won't impact how the Steelers prepare.

"We prepare for what they're capable of," Tomlin said. "We prepare for their best. We better be prepared to defend the best of them."

Cleveland Browns: Joe Flacco in the Running for Comeback Player of the Year

In the same year that Lamar Jackson will likely win MVP, Joe Flacco could be the Comeback Player of the Year.

Flacco now has the second-best odds behind Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who returned to the field this year after collapsing during a game late last season.

Hamlin has been the runaway favorite all year even though he's played sparingly (five games and 17 defensive snaps). Flacco, meanwhile, has led the Browns into the playoffs with a four-game winning streak. He's averaged 323 passing yards per game in five starts.

Flacco will receive some hefty bonus checks if Cleveland makes a run. According to, Flacco will receive a $250,000 bonus if the Browns win their Wild-[hyphen]Card playoff matchup, an additional $500,000 bonus if they win in the divisional round, $1 million more if they win the AFC Championship and $2 million more if they win the Super Bowl.

It's safe to say Flacco has plenty at stake. However, the former Ravens' quarterback is enjoying the ride and not focusing on the money. In typical Flacco fashion, he said last month that he wasn't certain of all the contract details when he signed.

"I kind of leave it up to Joe (Linta), my agent, and he brushes over it with me real quick and I come up and sign it," Flacco said via "I have no idea. "I haven't looked at my bank account. I don't even know if I've gotten a check yet."

The Browns secured a playoff spot with their victory over the Jets on "Thursday Night Football." They are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC and will open the playoffs on the road against the winner of the AFC South (Jaguars, Colts, or Texans).

Cincinnati Bengals: Eliminated From Playoffs, Focus Turns to Getting Healthy and Next Season

Cincinnati was eliminated from playoff contention with their 25-17 loss to Kansas City on Sunday.

After winning the AFC North in back-to-back seasons, the Bengals (8-8) could not overcome an 0-2 start and Joe Burrow's season-ending wrist injury suffered Week 11 against the Ravens. Cincinnati was vying to become the first team to win three straight AFC North crowns.

Head Coach Zac Taylor is looking forward to getting Burrow back healthy and believes the Bengals have a nucleus of talent to bounce back strong next season.

"He's one of the best players on planet earth," Head Coach Zac Taylor said via the Bengals’ website. "That's just a part of life. We're not the only team that deals with losing good players. I am proud of the way this team continues to fight. I was proud of the way Jake (Browning) stepped in for us and continued to lead. This team has not laid down for anybody. It hasn't gone our way especially the last two weeks, but that doesn't mean I' not proud of what these guys have done.

"Not every locker room is like this in this league, guys that play for each other. We just came up a little bit short. Unfortunately, not every year's your year."

The Bengals will close out the season hosting the Browns in Week 18.

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