NFL Notebook: Steelers could be shorthanded in must-win game
We’ve made it, folks! This weekend is the final one of the National Football League’s newly-extended regular season. With 16 games down and one to go, there’s still plenty on the line for several teams, and a look at the uncertain playoff picture headlines this week’s NFL Notebook. Let’s get to it!
Win And They’re In
This one’s simple: If the Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, they’re in the playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers can also clinch a spot with a win over the Los Angeles Rams, as can both the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders (who, in a welcome twist for the NFL’s scheduling folks, play each other on Sunday night).
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There are other, more convoluted ways in which these teams could get in (including an LA/Las Vegas tie that would put both teams into the playoffs, which would be fascinating), but the simplest way to say it is that they control their own destinies at this point.
Win And Get Help
There are some other teams still alive, but hanging on by threads. For example, the New Orleans Saints need to beat the Atlanta Falcons this week and hope the 49ers lose to the Rams. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens also play each other this week, and regardless of which team wins, that winner will need help.
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Pittsburgh needs a victory and an Indianapolis loss, along with a non-tie between the Chargers and Raiders, while Baltimore needs a win and losses by the Colts, Chargers, and Dolphins.
Pittsburgh Shorthanded On Sunday?
We’ve mentioned the Steelers already, and they’ll almost certainly be down several key players in what could be Ben Roethlisberger’s final regular-season game with the franchise. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson and center Kendrick Green were placed on the COVID-19 list on Thursday, and it’s unlikely either will clear protocols ahead of the regular season finale.
Johnson has caught 100 passes for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns, and all of these totals lead the team.
Okay, Let’s Talk About Antonio Brown
Social media predictably went berserk when Antonio Brown shed his uniform in the middle of Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets, then left the field while playing to the crowd. Brown says his ankle was not healthy, while the Bucs brass says Brown refused a direct order to go into the game and had complained about a lack of targets during the halftime break.
The talented, temperamental wide receiver was officially released on Thursday, and it’s fair to wonder if we’ll ever see him in the NFL again after his antics Sunday. Tampa Bay, by the way, rallied to top New York, 28-24.