The Pittsburgh Steelers put up a valiant effort against the New Orleans Saints, and were in position to at least attempt a game-tying field goal at the end, before the defense was able to strip JuJu Smith-Schuster of the football with a minute to play, ending the game with a three-point loss.
The defeat drops the Steelers to 8-6-1 on the season, and forces them to relinquish control of their ability to determine their playoff fate. Their postseason future is now in the hands of…Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns.
All of Pittsburgh will be Browns fans a week from today as they head on the road to take on the Baltimore Ravens, who will have everything to play for. The Ravens will win the division no matter what else happens if they beat the Browns.
While Cleveland has already been eliminated from the postseason, however, they are still playing for plenty. With another win today, they are now 7-7-1 on the season and have the opportunity to secure their first winning season in over a decade.
It would be a huge feather in the cap of interim head coach Gregg Williams, who has this team 5-2 since the front office fired Head Coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Cleveland already beat the Ravens earlier this season in overtime, though at home.
The last time these two teams faced each other, things looked pretty different for both sides. Jackson and Haley were still there, for one thing, on Cleveland’s side. They have readjusted their protections since then and given Mayfield more time to throw.
The Browns are riding a three-game winning streak now and have won five of their past six games, as have the Ravens, which coincides with the starting history of rookie Lamar Jackson. They are the only two rookies this year who now don’t have losing records.
Jackson is coming off his first career 200-yard passing game, which included a bit 68-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Mark Andrews. The Browns, however, will have to be most concerned with containing the run, both from Jackson and from Gus Edwards, who is averaging nearly 100 yards per game since being featured in the lineup over the past six games.
As for the Steelers, they still have to hold up their end by beating the Cincinnati Bengals, who were just dominated by the Browns. The Bengals are without Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, and others, and may not have others such as Tyler Boyd, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Vontaze Burfict for the finale.
Pittsburgh should be easily able to handle their business, but the Ravens have been one of the hottest teams in the league in the past month and a half. Surprisingly, so have the Browns, but Baltimore will be a bigger test for them after they looked outclassed against the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, their two losses under Williams.