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Buffalo Bills Pass Steelers for No. 2 Seed in AFC

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The Pittsburgh Steelers can still claim the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs, but they did not get any help in that quest on Monday night, falling to third place after the Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football

The Buffalo win drew the Bills and Steelers even at 12-3, behind the 14-1 Kansas City Chiefs in the American Conference. The Bills hold the tiebreaker with the Steelers by virtue of their Week 14 victory head-to-head at Bills Stadium, so the Steelers will need to win at Cleveland on Sunday and have the Bills lose at home to Miami.

Like Pittsburgh, Buffalo has nothing to play in Week 17 for except for minor seeding, as neither team can fall below third place in the AFC. The Dolphins and Browns will be playing for their postseason lives as two of five teams currently tied at 10-5, only four of which will end up in the playoffs.

Currently, Tennessee owns the tiebreaker over Indianapolis to lead the AFC South and would host No. 5 Miami, while Baltimore would come to Pittsburgh and Buffalo would host Cleveland, with Indianapolis on the outside looking in.

Especially with the logjam behind them, the difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 seed will likely be fairly minimal this season, with the biggest difference coming in the form of a guaranteed second-round home game.

Baltimore will visit Cincinnati on Sunday, with that, the Pittsburgh-Cleveland and the Buffalo-Miami game all kicking off at 1 p.m., so the Steelers will know their seed by roughly the end of their game on Sunday.

But Jacksonville at Indianapolis and Tennessee at Houston will start at 4:25 p.m., so Pittsburgh may have to wait to discover their opponent.

Kansas City is locked into the No. 1 seed, the only AFC team to have solidified its position entering the final week. Pittsburgh and Buffalo have both clinched division titles.

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Report: Ben Roethlisberger Wants JuJu Smith-Schuster to Return to Steelers for 2021

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return to the team, according to a report by NFL Network, and he apparently also wants wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to return to the team with him.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafalo reported that Roethlisberger has communicated to the team that he wants Smith-Schuster back for the 2021 season.


Roethlisberger has one season left on his contract, which carries a $41 million cap hit, including $19 million of salary. Smith-Schuster is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career after making $1.04 million in 2020.

Roethlisberger’s contract is a big part of a money crunch that has the Steelers as much as $40 million over the 2021 salary cap entering the offseason.

Smith-Schuster is expected to make as much as $15 million per year on a market-value contract.

It’s not clear how the Steelers would be able to fit both Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster under the 2021 salary cap. Roethlisberger would almost certainly have to take a significant pay cut.

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Report: Steelers to Promote Matt Canada to Offensive Coordinator

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The Steelers are expected to promote quarterback coach Matt Canada to offensive coordinator, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Randy Fichtner, who had held the job since 2018, was not retained as the team’s offensive coordinator the team announced, the team announced on Thursday.

Canada, 48, spent his first season in the NFL with the Steelers in 2020 as quarterbacks coach. He had also been a candidate to become offensive coordinator at Miami.

A native of New Palestine, Indiana, Canada has been a coordinator at multiple stop at the collegiate level. He was most recently Maryland’s offensive coordinator and interim head coach in 2018, guiding the Terrapins to 5-7 record after the firing of D.J. Durkin following the death of a player in an offseason workout.

Before that, Canada was a coordinator at LSU, Pitt, NC State, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Indiana and Butler.

At Pitt in 2016, Canada was a finalist for the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach after leading the Panthers to a program record in points scored. He coached NFL quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett at NC State and Nate Peterman at Pitt. Steelers running backs James Conner (Pitt), Anthony McFarland (Maryland) and Jaylen Samuels (NC State) all played under Canada.

Canada is the sixth offensive coordinator hired by the Steelers in the last 20 years and all but one of them have been internal promotions.

The Steelers will need to replace Canada as quarterbacks coach, as well as tight ends coach James Daniel, who retired, and offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett, who was not retained, on the offensive staff.

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Report: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger Expected to Return for 2021

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return for the 2021 season, according to a report by Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

Roethlisberger, 38, said after the season that he would take time to consult with his family and think about whether he wanted to return for an 18th NFL season.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that the Steelers would welcome a return by Roethlisberger.

In 2020, Roethlisberger started all but one game for the Steelers, as he was rested in the regular season finale against Cleveland. In 15 regular season games, he threw for 3,803 yards while completing 65.6 percent of his passes, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Roethlisberger pushed the ball downfield less in 2020 than he has in the past, which his 6.3 yards per attempt the lowest full-season mark of his career. Pro Football Focus rated him as the 25th-most effective quarterback in the NFL this season and the worst of the four starters in the AFC North.

In Pittsburgh’s postseason loss to Cleveland, Roethlisberger set an NFL record for completions in a game while racking up four touchdowns and 501 passing yards, but also threw four interceptions.


His contract is a potential sticking point, as he is set to earn $19 million in salary in 2021 in addition to a $22 million deferred signing bonus from the last time he signed a contract that must be paid out, whether Roethlisberger plays or not.

Depending on the final salary cap figure, the Steelers could be as much as $40 million over the salary cap entering the 2021 offseason.

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