RIVERS   CHARGERS 437/661 4792 29 13  
BRADY   PATRIOTS 402/624 4770 36 7  
BORTLES   JAGUARS   355/606 4428 35 18  
IVORY   JETS   247 1070 7    
MURRAY    RAIDERS   266 1066 6    
GORE   COLTS   260 967 6    
BROWN   STEELERS   136 1834 10    
HOPKINS   TEXANS   111 1521 11    
LANDRY   BRONCOS 110 1157 4    
SACKS       NO.        
WATT   TEXANS   17.5        
MACK   RAIDERS   15        
DUNLAP   BENGALS   13.5        
JACKSON   COLTS   150 89 61    
JONES   DOLPHINS 135 106 29    
POSLUSZNY JAGUARS   133 103 30    
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Article by Gordon Dedman I don’t pay much attention to the build up to the Draft as there are too many imponderables to provide any realism to project which player will go to what team except for the first few, but even then there can be twists with trades. The NFL Draft is big business, even big show business. There will be blanket coverage for the league in the news and social media at the end of this month. “A three-day outdoor football festival for families and fans of all ages,” is how the NFL describes the extravaganza that will take over Chicago. The teams have been evaluating players throughout the college season climaxing with the NFL Scouting Combine at the beginning of the year. Take a look at each team’s front office listing the personnel in their scouting unit. There’s a lot of depth and investment in the department, because it can provide some outstanding rewards. But, all the research and analysis in the world isn’t guaranteed to pick a winner and there are many occasions when teams overlook future stars. Tom Brady wasn’t selected until the sixth round of the 2000 draft, but six other quarterbacks were picked before he was taken by New England. For nearly forty years, the Steelers were perennial losers, but when they hired Chuck Noll in 1969 he built a Super Bowl winning team through the draft. His first ever pick Joe Greene turned into a legend and the Hall of Fame is filled with many more of Noll’s draft choices. I was fortunate once to visit the Steelers “war room.” It was during the season and on one wall were several columns of cards with players’ names arranged in slots so they could be moved up or down as the individual’s stock rose or dipped. The pro season was still in flight, but the Steelers were already evaluating players they might draft in six months’ time. Steelers General Manager Kevin has stated the Steelers will focus this year on the defensive side of the ball. Steeler fans have been complaining about the team’s secondary for years so they will be hoping Pittsburgh uses its first round pick on a cornerback for the first time since 1997 when they selected Chad Scott. The Steelers won’t be the only team in the division adding depth to their defense. The Bengals eleventh ranked defense took a hit when their Pro Bowler safety Reggie Nelson agreed a two year deal with Oakland. Cincinnati did pick up linebacker Karlos Dansby from Cleveland, but they need to do more on that side of the ball. The Bengals lost two receivers to free agency so replacements should also figure in their draft. After their 5-11 season, the Ravens find themselves in the unusual position of having a high pick that should provide them with a great opportunity to select a solid player to strengthen their defense. Now the Browns have RG3 onboard and with experts projecting them to select a quarterback with their overall second pick, it appears that Josh McCown could find himself redundant in Cleveland. Maybe new head coach Hue Jackson thinks differently about using that top pick on a quarterback. He enthused about Josh McCown, “You don’t play in this league for 15 years having not been very good at what you do. He provides us with a really good quarterback, obviously a veteran presence and I am just excited to work with him.” With the loss of Travis Benjamin to free agency, whoever leads the Browns at quarterback may not have anyone to throw to unless they address the deficit in the draft. One player who may not find work is Browns receiver Josh Gordon, who was forced to sit out last season for drugs violation. It appears he has failed another drugs test so has to wait until August for the NFL’s decision on whether he can play. Stories are now circulating that Gordon is living with Johnny Manziel. You just couldn’t make it up, but it is the Browns we are talking about so we don’t have to.
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Article by Gordon Dedman Robert Lee Griffin III is now with Cleveland Foolhardy or genius? The Browns signing of RG III may give Cleveland the franchise quarterback they have been seeking, but there’s a good chance it will prove yet another mistake. The franchise never appears to learn any lessons. As the Pittsburgh sports reporter said, look up “incompetence” in the dictionary and you will find the Browns logo. Griffin was an outstanding player, both in college and his first year as a pro. His performances at Baylor were good enough to earn him the 2011 Heisman Trophy and impress the Redskins sufficiently to for the team to trade up to select him in 2012. He missed a large part of Baylor’s 2009 season with a torn ACL.  On his return after surgery, he led the Bears to a 7-6 record. The following season’s 10-3 took the team to their first bowl appearance for seventeen years and earned him the Heisman. Stanford’s Andrew Luck had been pencilled in as that year’s Heisman winner before Griffin’s exploits brought him the honour. He was the nation’s most efficient passer, throwing for 3,998 yards with 36 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He added 644 yards rushing with nine more touchdowns. Griffin decided to forsake his senior college year to enter the 2012 draft. The Browns general manager Tom Heckerts called Griffin a “special athlete” and with their overall third pick were favoured to select him if still available. But it was the Redskins who made the move, trading up with the Rams to second spot while Cleveland took Trent Richardson with the next selection. Both players have failed to live up to expectations although Griffin had a spectacular first year in Washington. He finished that season with a quarterback rating of 102.4 (a record for a rookie) and was the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year after turning the franchise around from losers to the NFC West division champions. Injuries then affected his playing ability and last season he did not play a snap after falling out of favour with Coach Gruden. The Browns have gone through 24 quarterbacks since returning to the league and while seeking the Holy Grail of a franchise quarterback have wasted a lot of money and effort. If they had succeeded in their quest, the cupboard would be bare of supporting players and the same old Browns would still have a skeleton of a team. Will it be any different with RG III? Cleveland’s coach Hue Jackson believes it will describing Griffin as “a tremendous talent and a great man.” With the talented quarterbacks the other teams in the AFC North enjoy, they won’t lose any sleep over the signing. Jackson also raved about Cal quarterback Jared Goff and indicated the Browns may select a quarterback in the draft with their second overall pick. Does that indicate an attempt to put more than one wheel back on the wagon or perhaps the Browns have come up with a cunning plan to change the course of their history?
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Article by Gordon Dedman Baltimore’s Tray Walker was tragically killed in a dirt bike accident last week. “We are grieving the loss of a special young man,” tweeted the team. Walker was drafted last year and played eight games. AFC North Free Agency Moves As everyone suspected and predicted, Johnny Manziel is currently team less after the Browns let him go. Manziel still wants to play in the NFL, but with the pictures of him partying that continuously appear in Social Media just mean the teams prepared to take a risk with the enigma are diminishing. With a potential domestic violence case hanging over him, Manziel will find enthusiasm to sign him fading. Cleveland was not the only team to face player problems after Pittsburgh discovered they will lose Martavis Bryant for the year for his second substance abuse violation. Bryant will be remembered for the unbelievable head over heels reception he made in the playoffs against Cincinnati. Bryant is another talented player that feels the need to self-destruct. The Steelers also lost Heath Miller, but for the right reasons with his decision to retire. Miller missed only eight games in eleven seasons and is the team’s all-time leader for tight ends in receptions (592), receiving yards (6,569) and receiving touchdowns (45). Image courtesy of Gordon Dedman Ben Roethlisberger often referred to Miller as his greatest teammate and he will be difficult to replace. The Steelers wasted little time in an attempt to address the loss by signing Ladarius Green, a free agent who spent four years in San Diego. Another San Diego player moving east is safety Eric Weddle. “I couldn’t be more excited and pumped to be a part of a championship organisation who wanted me from day one,” said Weddle about joining the Ravens. He left his nine-year career with the Chargers in not so friendly terms which explain his enthusiasm for Baltimore. Former Steeler Mike Wallace was also signed by the Ravens after spending two years in Miami and last season with the Vikings. The Bengals took a knock with the loss of two able receivers from their offense. Marvin Jones went to Detroit and Mohamed Sanu was signed by Atlanta. Sanu saw less playing time last season so his $32 million five year contract was a great incentive to switch to the Falcons. Jones signed with the Lions on similar terms.  Safety Taylor Mays will be returning to the Bengals after spending a year in Oakland where he played in 14 games. Mays is suspended for the first four games of this season for substance abuse. Players moving to the AFC North Eric Weddle FS from San Diego to Baltimore Mike Wallace WR from Minnesota to Baltimore Benjamin Watson TE from New Orleans to Baltimore Taylor Mays S from Oakland to Cincinnati Demario Davis ILB from New York Jets to Cleveland Justin Tuggle ILB from Houston to Cleveland Rahim Moore FS from Houston to Cleveland Alvin Bailey G from Seattle to Cleveland Ladarius Green TE from San Diego to Pittsburgh Ryan Harris T from Denver to Pittsburgh AFC North compensatory draft picks: Baltimore 4th round – 132 overall. Baltimore 4th round – 134 overall. Baltimore 6th round – 209 overall. Cleveland 4th round – 138 overall. Cleveland 5th round – 172 overall. Cleveland 5th round – 173 overall. Pittsburgh 6th round – 220 overall.
Article by Sam Beresford Denver Broncos player, and soon to be free agent, Danny Trevathan is one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL. This was portrayed in the Broncos outstanding defensive display that led them to a 24-10 win in the Super Bowl, where Trevathan played a major role with two fumbles recoveries.   Since being drafted into the league in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL draft (with the pick they received from trading Tim Tebow to the Jets), Trevathan has been under the radar; with bigger stars and names in that Broncos front 7 (such as future hall of famers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware) quite rightly commanding the attention form the media. In college, Trevathan was a star linebacker out of Kentucky and earnt himself First-team All-SEC honours in 2010 and Second-team the year later. He led the conference in tackling (144) in 2011 and led the conference again through nine games in 2011. This, in no doubt, conveys the talent and commitment that has led him to becoming a highly touted free agent. Trevathan is just entering his prime, at the age of 25 with many good years ahead of him. He has not quite got the measurables that are desired at the top level, standing at 6’1” and weighing in at 240 pounds however, he makes up for that in desire and toughness, as seen by his college statistics. Trevathan is very solid against the run, and a capable tackler. The ability to stop the run is a quality that is tremendously important when trying to find your inside linebacker of the future, and Trevathan clearly portrays this quality, in abundance.  Even though he plays inside linebacker he has the ability to rush the passer as shown in 2013 (undoubtedly his best year in the league), where he rushed the passer 60 times, equating to 2 sacks, 3 hits and 14 pressures, this meant that he applied pressure onto the quarterback 33 % of rushes, this truly is very effective for a player with limited speed playing on the inside. This tells us that Trevathan is a smart player, who can not only use his physical ability but also his mental ability to get to the quarterback to try to make a play.  However, last season, Trevathan did not achieve one sack in any of his 15 starts, this could be cause for concern, although, he has shown he has the skillset throughout his 50 game regular season career to squash those concerns.  Many teams are currently looking for a linebacker that can also drop into coverage, when necessary. Trevathan has shown he has the ability to do this, with 5 career interceptions, including 2 last season (returning 1 for a touchdown) and 3 in 2013. This once again comes down to Trevathan’s “football IQ” which is plain to see, although he does not always make the play. You can see him read the quarterbacks eyes, trying to make a play on the ball, this is shown by his 6 pass deflections in 2015 and 10 deflections in 2013. Overall, Trevathan is not perfect, but he definitely has the potential to become a star linebacker within the league. He definitely has the ball in his court, as far as negotiations go with the Broncos busy off season ahead. Many experts see Von Miller as a likely franchise tag, while Brock Osweiler needs a long term deal and the futures of defensive linemen Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson also need addressing. This could lead to Trevathan being allowed to test the open market, somewhere he will be bound to have suitors all willing to offer him multi-year million dollar contracts for the three down linebacker.   
Article by Gordon Dedman Even with the Super Bowl over, the NFL doesn’t stand still and the Browns were running as soon as their season finished. They enjoy musical chairs in Cleveland and once again replaced their coach before he had time to get comfortable in the job. On average, since 1999 when the Browns team was reborn, the franchise has changed their head coach every two years and the firing of Mike Pettine was true to form. His 3-13 record saw him exit along with the organisation’s general manager.   Their quarterbacks cannot be blamed for all the misery on offense. If they don’t have any support, you can’t expect them to produce miracles as they are hounded around the field. Josh McCown performed well under constant pressure and still has two years left on his contract, and should be given the opportunity to confirm his competence, but this is the Browns we are talking about. As is usual when a new head coach takes over the reins, Hue Jackson has put his own men in place on the coaching staff. With a new offensive coordinator/assistant head coach in Pep Hamilton, yet more changes when this team really needed some stability. All signs point to Johnny Manziel being shown the exit and amazingly, the draft talk in Cleveland revolves around the selection of a quarterback with their overall second pick. There is even talk of the Cleveland trading for one, but it is just talk so cooler heads will prevail… won’t they? Against tremendous adversity when he lost some top players during the season, Mike Tomlin still managed to take his team to the playoffs with a 10-6 record. The NFL Nation writers who report on the AFC North acknowledged Tomlin as their AFC North Coach of the Year for overcoming adversity. Despite the loss of some star players, Tomlin managed to take the Steelers close to Super Bowl 50 before losing to the eventual winners. They also awarded running back Duke Johnson the Rookie of the Year. Johnston was drafted in the third round by Cleveland and he ended the season with 379 yards rushing on 104 carries so the news isn’t all bad for the Browns. The Ravens received some good news with wide receiver Steve Smith stating he wants to return to the team after hinting at the beginning of last season that 2015 would be his final year in football.  The injury that saw him miss half the season has changed his mind – if he makes a full recovery from his Achilles injury. While the Bengals wait for Andy Dalton to begin throwing again after fracturing his thumb in week 14, they promoted their quarterback coach Ken Zampese to the offensive coordinator position. The change was forced on the team after Hue Jackson moved to the Browns. Vontaze Burfict’s 3-game suspension for his hit on Steelers Antonio Brown was upheld by the NFL appeals officer Derrick Brooks.
The AFC North lost its last representative in the playoffs when the Steelers failed to win a gritty battle in Denver. As I had suggested in my preview, it was a turnover that flipped the momentum.  Fitzgerald Toussaint’s fumble five minutes into the final quarter provided the veteran Peyton Manning with an opportunity to make his mark on the game. With the Steelers 13-12 ahead and driving forward, the turnover momentarily sucked the energy from the Steelers and lifted the spirits of the languid Broncos.   Manning took just three minutes to lead his team on a drive of 65 yards that was finished with a one-yard touchdown run from C.J. Anderson. The successful two-points after pass to Demaryius Thomas gave the Broncos a 20-13 lead. With the leader who never knows when to quit, Ben Roethlisberger valiantly attempted to spur on his offense after the fateful setback. In a frantic final three minutes with both defenses dictating the pace, the teams could only exchange field goals as Denver took a 23-16 victory that sees the number one AFC seed host a game next Sunday against the second seed New England Patriots. POST GAME COMMENTS FROM THE COACHES Gary Kubiak: “I think the wind was a big factor in the football field. It really was. The ball was moving. We had, what, four or five drops in the first half that could have been big plays. It made a difference, but we just kept our poise, kept grinding. That’s what our team has been about all year.” Mike Tomlin: “I’ve got to start off by complimenting and congratulating the Denver Broncos on a winning performance. We fought hard, just not enough today. Came up a few plays short. Such is life. I just appreciate the efforts of our football team. There can only be one, obviously, and this year it’s not us.”  
Article by Gordon Dedman   From the euphoria of winning a game they looked as though they had lost, Steeler fans have endured a week of injury concerns that finally saw Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams confirmed out and Ben Roethlisberger listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. The Steelers chance of winning this playoff game revolves around Roethlisberger’s participation. He practiced for the first time Friday, after which Coach Tomlin observed, “I thought it was a productive day." If he plays and can throw the ball effectively in Denver, they will have a great chance to progress to the Conference Final.   If the Steelers are forced to turn to backup Landry Jones, the chances of the team advancing to the Championship game diminish. After his competent start when he replaced the injured Roethlisberger earlier in the regular season, Jones has found out just how difficult it is to be a quarterback in the NFL. He has thrown an interception once every 12 pass attempts and if he replicates that Sunday, the Steelers season will end. With Brown out and doubts surrounding Roethlisberger, the Steelers ground game needs to be at its best. The dual threat of Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman will spearhead the Steelers ground game while their other receivers will need to step up. The Steelers defense can keep them in the game and provide the opportunity for whoever leads the offense, but they must contain Denver’s running game. The Steelers defense was ranked fifth against the run during the regular season while the Broncos ground game was ranked 17th. Running back Ronnie Hillman gained 117 in the Broncos last game when Peyton Manning came on midway through the third quarter to close out the 27-20 win. That was Manning’s first appearance since week 10 when he was benched suffering from a sore foot and rib injuries. Despite doubts over his agility this season, Manning has the experience to lead his team to a win providing his offensive line protect him from the Steelers defense. The focus for Pittsburgh will be to disrupt his timing. Manning has thrown 17 interceptions with seven touchdowns this season before missing seven games. The Broncos win the battle of stats. They finished the regular season number one in total defense, number one in sacks, number one in run defense, number one in pass defense and the team is the number one seed in the AFC. Having a bye week to rest while their opponents were getting banged around ensures the Broncos will be fresh and ready to play with their own dynamic duo receiving corps of Demaryius Thomas and former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders. The key for the Steelers is to stop the Broncos’ running game and force Denver into third and long, making Manning pass with the potential to pick him off. As in every game, turnovers will have an impact as was displayed in that amazing final two minutes in Cincinnati last weekend. These teams are evenly balanced in forced fumbles, interceptions and sacks so once again it is likely to be a tense defensive struggle and while the Broncos are the probable winners, the Steelers can never be counted out.      
Article by Gordon Dedman I am glad that I am writing a review of this game because I want to remember this battle for years to come. I expected a tough fight, but the torrential rain turned the game into a Hollywood drama with an ending that only a script writer could have conceived with the main star emerging as a hero. The ingredients for a classic playoff game. Pittsburgh - a team with a football tradition to uphold in Cincinnati - a team with a playoff jinx to lay to rest. The twist in the tale saw a leader on one side turn villain while the hero returned to produce the impossible and save his team from defeat. With the rain cascading down on the players, the initial skirmishes were tentative with both teams probing for the weak points of their opponents with scoring opportunities rare. Missing DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers used Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman early to put their running game into gear.   Playing in his first playoff game, Cincinnati’s AJ McCarron was hesitant, but the early difference between the quarterbacks was McCarron’s interception. His deep pass in the second quarter was underthrown in the wet and plucked out of the air by Anton Blake to set up a 39-yard field goal that broke the deadlock. As the second quarter finished, the Steelers added another Chris Boswell field goal from 30 yards to increase their lead to 6-0. In that first half, both teams could only convert one of their seven third downs, a reflection on the stagnant football being played as the defenses held the upper hand in the atrocious conditions. When the Bengals put a creditable drive together at the beginning of the third period, it was brought to an abrupt end with McCarron’s forced fumble that set the Steelers up for a field goal of 34 yards. Antonio Brown caught a 60-yard pass in Pittsburgh’s next series and his team capitalised on it when Ben Roethlisberger threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant. The catch, which will make all the highlight reels, was a moment of magic as Bryant summersaulted to complete the reception and increase Pittsburgh’s lead to 15-0 after failing with the two points after attempt. The frustration of playing in the inclement conditions combined with the Bengals losing yet another playoff game gradually turned adrenalin into aggression, particularly when Vontaze Burfict was on the field. His crunching tackle of Roethlisberger as the third period came to an end sent the quarterback into the locker room with a shoulder injury and sparked the Bengals into life. In a frantic final quarter, Cincinnati’s play picked up intensity. When Will Allen’s pass interference penalty placed the ball on the Steelers four-yard line, Jeremy Hill’s run of 2 yards put the Bengals first points on the board and the home crowd finally found their voice as the cauldron that was Paul Brown Stadium began to heat up. With Landry Jones now at quarterback, Pittsburgh turned conservative and paid the price giving up ten points as McCarron found his form including a 25-yard touchdown pass to AJ Green giving his team a 16-15 lead. With less than two minutes remaining, Steelers’ Markus Wheaton fumbled gifting Cincinnati supreme field position on Pittsburgh’s 26-yard and the game at their mercy. With the Bengals finally looking a playoff win in the eye, the Steelers were facing the end of their season. As the Bengals were taking time off the clock with a 6-yard run from Hill, they began to self-destruct. Steeler’s linebacker Ryan Shazier stripped the ball and the turnover provided Pittsburgh with one final opportunity to snatch a win. Enter the gladiator who had seen and done it all before. Roethlisberger reappeared to guide his team into long field goal range before two crass, unnecessary Bengals penalties, including a Burfict hit on Brown that produced a three game suspension, moved the attempt into a chip shot for Boswell. His 35-yard field goal gave the Steelers the 18-16 win. The battered Steelers move to Denver next Sunday while the Bengals spend a few months pondering on what could have been and why their aggression turned to stupidity and cost them the game.
Article by Gordon Dedman While each season the AFC North division play in the shadow of the AFC East and the New England Patriots, the North still produces solid, blue collar football. Sunday will showcase the division at its the best when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to the Cincinnati Bengals in a winner takes all wildcard game. I could produce every kind of stat that will suggest this team or that team will win, but you can throw the stats out of the window for this one. It will be a tense physical contest.   Before the regular season game in Cincinnati kicked off, these two teams confirmed what this rivalry now means when they created quite a spat as their pre-match warm up heated up. Apparently the NFL has warned both teams against repeating the fracas this weekend, especially before a national television audience. The winner Saturday night will be the team that holds its nerve in the high pressure cauldron that will be Paul Brown Stadium. I’m amazed to see the bookies make the Steelers favourites, but is that because it appears to be men against boys with AJ McCarron as the Bengals quarterback? In Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have one of the league’s premier quarterbacks with the ability to turn a game in an instant. He can make unbelievable passes and has the capability to thread the ball through a defense to his receivers.  He can also throw interceptions. Antonio Brown is Ben’s favourite receiver and has set an NFL record this season by catching 135 passes for the second year running, but the stats show that Antonio Brown has not scored a touchdown in the playoffs. It’s the one accomplishment missing from his résumé while this month he became the first wide receiver to be honoured as the AFC Offensive Player of the Month three times. Turnovers will again be the key. McCarron hasn’t thrown an interception in 83 pass attempts since he threw two against the Steelers when making his debut for the injured Andy Dalton in Week 14. McCarron has made his mark as the first Bengals quarterback not to have thrown an interception in their first three starts. McCarron has been taught not to give the ball away to his opponent and the tutelage is obviously working for the youngster while Ben Roethlisberger has thrown two interceptions in each of his last three games.   As Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats observed, “I feel like as long as we play our game, don’t turn the ball over, and create turnovers, we match up with any team.” Cincinnati’s Pro Bowl safety Reggie Nelson offered, “It should be one hell of a game. The last game (December 13) was a terrible one for us, and this time we want to make it a good one. I think a lot of people are going to enjoy this.” I think the neutrals might just be hoping he’s right. It’s going to be a tough demanding game and should advertise the quality of football in the division. As I write there are a couple of unknowns, besides who is going to win. It looks unlikely that either DeAngelo Williams for the Steelers or Andy Dalton for the Bengals will play, but if they do it is possible they could make an impact. 
Article by Gordon Dedman Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns This game wasn’t as straightforward for the Steelers as the score line reflects. Although Pittsburgh took a 14-9 lead at the half, they didn’t find the going easy against a team with only three victories on the season. The Browns totally dominated the second and third quarters in time of possession, but failed to transfer that superiority into points. They could only kick two field goals while the Steelers manged to put together one drive of eighty yards in six plays that took just 58 seconds finishing with Antonio Brown’s 17-yard touchdown catch. Two Cleveland fumbles in the final period helped the Steelers to add eleven points and take a 28-12 victory that earned them the sixth seed wildcard spot with the Jets losing in Buffalo. As expected, the poor season for the Browns saw them part ways with their head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer. Since the seventies, Pittsburgh fans have never known the barren years that Browns fans have experienced. Cleveland fans would die for a 10-6 record while Steeler fans believe nothing less than a Super Bowl win completes a season. The major concern for the Steelers was DeAngelo Williams going off with an ankle injury. Pittsburgh’s playoff progress was dashed last season with an injury to Le’Veon Bell, which is why they brought Williams in. If absent next weekend, it could affect their ability to overcome the division champions. Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals The Ravens were rewarded with only three field goals as they dictated the opening half of this game while Cincinnati struck late with Tyler Eifert’s thirteenth touchdown for the season. In the final two quarters, the Bengals and AJ McCarron found their feet aided by two Ryan Mallett interceptions. The Bengals added touchdowns from AJ Green and Jeremy Hill plus a field goal to take the 24-16 win. With Denver’s defeat of San Diego, Cincinnati finished as the AFC’s third seed to host the Steelers. "It's a great matchup and a great rivalry and we are excited," said McCarron looking forward to the wildcard game. "We are just excited about getting to play in the playoffs, especially a game at home, and to make the most of it." Most Cincinnati fans will be hoping that Andy Dalton returns from injury, but it won’t be any bonus if his broken thumb hasn’t healed properly.