JuJu Smith-Schuster is leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers to join the Kansas City Chiefs, the wide receiver appeared to confirm.

The 25-year-old was expected to leave the Steelers and used his official Twitter account to post a goodbye message to the fans, before adding in a later post: "#ChiefsKingdom Let's Go!"

Smith-Schuster will receive a one-year, $10.75M deal in Kansas, according to reports.

He spent five years in Pittsburgh after being drafted from the University of Southern California, playing 63 games and making just one touchdown, which came against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2 of last season.

Smith-Schuster posted a screenshot on Twitter that read: "To all of Steelers Nation. Thank you for taking me in and making me a part of the family from the moment that I was drafted. You all took me in so quickly, and I really needed it.

"I was a wide-eyed 20-year-old who was sent to the east coast away from my family for the first time in my life, and you made me feel right at home, despite all of the loneliness I should have felt.

"These have been the best five years in my life. I owe so much to the fans who embraced me and who made playing on Sundays in Pittsburgh so special.

"It was an honor to wear the black and gold for you all! I love you! JuJu."

After four uneven years as starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears and one year as a backup for the Buffalo Bills, Mitch Trubisky was ready for a new start.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers came calling, Trubisky knew that was exactly where he wanted to play.

"My goal through free agency was to find a way to get back on the field," the 27-year-old Trubisky said on Thursday, shortly after his two-year, $14 million deal with Pittsburgh became official.

"When an opportunity arose to play for coach [Mike] Tomlin and wear a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform, I was so excited. Now I'm ready to roll and get to it."

The second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft by the Bears, Trubisky's career never quite took off in Chicago.

He helped the Bears to playoff berths in 2018 and '20 and was reportedly well liked among his teammates, but he was never viewed as being a dangerous downfield passer. Among 41 QBs with at least 600 pass attempts from 2017-20, he ranked 24th in completion percentage (64.0), 29th in passer rating (87.2) and 35th in yards per attempt (6.73).

Part of the reason for his lack of success, however, also stems from an offense that failed to take shape under former Bears coach Matt Nagy.

Trubisky spent this past season as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo and credits his time there as crucial in recognising the type of organisation he wanted to be a part of.

"I think I learned a lot," he said. "I was in a great organisation and the first thing that I really learned when [I got] to Buffalo is what a great culture feels like, and I already feel like that here, already in my short time in Pittsburgh.

"Culture wins. I could tell when I was in Buffalo, and I can tell it's going to be a great fit here with the culture. I'm excited to contribute to that. It was a huge year for me in Buffalo, just to take a reset and get my mind right and continue to hone my skills and just get ready for the next opportunity."

He joins a Steelers team steeped in tradition and one with an opening at quarterback following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.

During his 18-year career with the Steelers, Roethlisberger led the franchise to a pair of Super Bowl championships, eight AFC North Division titles and 12 playoff berths.

"They didn't really have to make a pitch to me or sell me on anything," Trubisky said. "This is where I wanted to be, play for coach Tomlin, be a part of the rich Pittsburgh Steelers history and contribute to that.”

Trubisky still must prove he is capable of being Roethlisberger’s heir apparent, however.

General manager Kevin Colbert has said before the team is comfortable going forward with Mason Rudolph, who has gone 5-4-1 in 10 starts for the Steelers since being selected in the third round of the 2018 draft.

Trubisky, though, is confident he has the skill set to win the job and earn the trust of his teammates.

"I'm in a situation where I have to prove myself back on the field," he said. "That's what I'm looking forward to doing. You're always betting on yourself in that sense, and I definitely am in this case.

"You've got to bet on yourself and trust what you're capable of."

The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to have settled on Mitchell Trubisky as the successor to Ben Roethlisberger.

According to multiple reports, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft has agreed a two-year contract with the Steelers.

The former Chicago Bears quarterback spent last season as Josh Allen's backup with the Buffalo Bills having failed to live up to his draft status.

Trubisky will now get the chance to reinvigorate his career in Pittsburgh and has significant shoes to fill after future Hall of Famer Roethlisberger retired following his 18th season in the NFL.

The Steelers had been said to be in the mix for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is available for trade as the Niners get set to start Trey Lance in 2022.

But they have instead avoided sending draft capital to another team and elected to bet on their ability to harness Trubisky's physical tools, something which the Bears largely failed to do.

The Bears traded up from the third pick to the second in 2017 to land Trubisky but, save for a 2018 season in which he was part of a team that won the NFC North only to lose in the Wild Card round to the Philadelphia Eagles, his time with the team was unsuccessful.

Chicago did get back to the playoffs in 2020, a season in which Trubisky and Nick Foles alternated at quarterback, but they suffered a meek Wild Card exit at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.

In his time with the Bears, Trubisky threw for 10,609 yards, 64 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. He also ran for eight touchdowns.

His final season with Chicago saw him record a pickable pass rate of 5.48 per cent, the fifth-worst among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts.

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are intrigued to see what Mason Rudolph can do but will still be adding to the quarterback position this offseason.

After the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh have uncertainty over their regular starter at QB for the first time since the two-time Super Bowl winner was drafted in 2004.

Rudolph was backup to Roethlisberger over the past three seasons and has started 10 games over that span, while former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins is expected to stay with the team.

The Steelers will also bring in another option, either via free agency, trade or the NFL Draft, but outgoing general manager Kevin Colbert was positive about Rudolph.

"Mason's 5-4-1 as an NFL starter, albeit in a backup kind of role, but we are excited to see what is next for Mason," said Colbert, who will step down as GM after the draft process, per ESPN.

"If we started a season today, Mason would be our starter, and we're excited to see where that can go. I'm comfortable that Mason has won more games than he's lost as a starter.

"Where that can go, we'll see. To be an NFL starter that you can win with, you gotta prove it over 16 games. I'm anxious to see that, if that's the case.

"And we're excited to see what Dwayne can provide either from competition, or maybe he evolves as a starter."

Jimmy Garoppolo has been linked as a possible trade candidate, while the Steelers have the number 20 pick in a draft which does not have a consensus top QB expected to go at the top of the order.

Colbert added: "We know we're going to add to the position. I can't tell you how, but at this point we will go to camp with four [QBs].

"If we had to start today with Mason as our starter, let's go. We'll try to build the best team around him."

Malik Willis, Sam Howell and Kenny Pickett are among the draft prospects Pittsburgh are likely to be doing due diligence on.

"The draft class of quarterbacks, there's good quality available – probably not as many as there have been in recent years, but it is what it is," added Colbert.

"This group, there's good players in it and there's good players that all have a different skill set. 

"That's what was really unique about watching them compete at the Senior Bowl, because the majority of them were there, and they're all different. 

"I know some of them will be starting quarterbacks, winning quarterbacks, and that's exciting."

Mike Tomlin said Brian Flores' resume "speaks for itself" after the Pittsburgh Steelers hired the former Miami Dolphins head coach as a senior defensive assistant.

Flores was fired by the Dolphins after a 2021 season in which he led Miami to a winning record for the second successive year.

He has since launched a class action lawsuit against the league, alleging the NFL is rife with racism and has a "disingenuous commitment to social equity".

Flores named the Dolphins along with the New York Giants and Denver Broncos as defendants.

Among the allegations from Flores is that his interview for the Giants head coaching position was essentially a sham, claiming to have inadvertently learned of their decision to hire Brian Daboll before the interview took place.

It is also alleged in the lawsuit that Flores "was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule" by the Broncos in 2019 and was never intended to be "a legitimate candidate", while also criticising the interview board.

All three teams have denied the accusations against them while the NFL said Flores' claims "are without merit". However, prior to last week's Super Bowl, commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would take nothing off the table in a review of its hiring practices.

Flores interviewed for the head coach role with the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints and, despite missing out on those jobs, will have a chance to embellish his already impressive CV with the Steelers after being named senior defensive assistant/linebackers.

"I am excited about Brian Flores joining our coaching staff given his history of developing and teaching defensive players during his time in the NFL," Steelers head coach Tomlin said.

"Brian's resume speaks for itself, and I look forward to him adding his expertise to help our team."

T.J. Watt vowed the honour of winning Defensive Player of the Year will motivate him more after the Pittsburgh Steelers star claimed the prize on Thursday.

Watt was announced as the winner during the NFL Honours ceremony in Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of three-time winner J.J. Watt. 

He took the award after racking up 22.5 sacks in 2021 but, following a campaign in which the Steelers were eliminated in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, is only using the accomplishment as further fuel going into 2022.

"I just want to thank my parents. Mom, dad, this is insane," said Watt. "My brothers, Derek and J.J., you guys have pushed me so much to get me to this point.

"My beautiful fiancee, Dani, for being my number one supporter. My team-mates and coaches back in Pittsburgh, this is truly not possible without you guys.

"There are so many guys that put in so much work that goes unnoticed. That's everyone from the guys in the cafeteria to the guys that are taping ankles. This ones for all of you guys.

"I grew up coming to this awards show, I think five or six times, and never came home with hardware. But every time I left more motivated than the time I got here. I promise this only motivates me more.

"I feel like I'm just about to be entering the prime of my career and that's why more than ever I just want to continue to find ways to get better at this game.

"That's why I love football so much. There's always room for improvement and I'm not satisfied. I'd much rather be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend than winning this award for sure.

"To be able to be recognised as the best defensive player in the year is definitely something that I strive to be.

"I'm not huge on individual goals, but it's tough for me not to want that when I saw my brother at the height of his career win the award three times and I always just thought to myself, why can't I do that?

"I'm just so motivated. I'm very honoured to receive this award when there's so many successful and great players in the National Football League."

Ben Roethlisberger, the great Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, has confirmed his retirement from the NFL after 18 seasons.

Thursday's announcement on Roethlisberger's official website's Twitter page had been expected at some point during the offseason.

The 39-year-old's comments around the Steelers' Wild Card Round defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs made clear his time with his only professional team was over and appeared to hint at the end of his career.

Reading a statement alongside his family in a social media video post, Roethlisberger said: "The time has come to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats and continue to be all I can be to my wife and children.

"I retire from football a truly grateful man."

Roethlisberger was a two-time champion in Pittsburgh, leading the Steelers to glory at Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII. They also made Super Bowl XLV, losing to the Green Bay Packers.

The 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Roethlisberger won the Steelers starting job in Week 3 of his rookie season and never looked back.

He made 247 QB starts, the fifth-most of all time, with all of those coming as a Steeler.

Only the same four players again – legends Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre – can top Roethlisberger for passing yards (64,088), although he ranks eighth for touchdown passes (418).

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says "all options are on the table" as he searches for the franchise's next quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger's expected exit.

Veteran two-time Super Bowl winner Roethlisberger is yet to fully declare his intentions but it is widely anticipated he will depart the Steelers.

Mason Rudolph and 2019 first round pick Dwayne Haskins were QBs on the Steelers 2021 roster while they could explore their trade or free agency options with Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston potentially available.

"All options are on the table," Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday. "I enjoy working with [general manager] Kevin [Colbert] this time of year because we speak plain English.

"We have to improve our football team. There's two major ways you do it. You do it to free agency, and you do it through the draft.

"We have to look at what's available to us in the draft positionally. And we have to look at what's available to us, potentially, in free agency, positionally, and then we kind of bring those two discussions together.

"It kind of gives us a path in which to go about addressing our needs."

Tomlin added: "Quarterback mobility is valued not only by me but everyone. It's just a component of today's game and increasingly so."

Contracted QB Rudolph and Haskins, who joined the Steelers from Washington in 2021, were used sparingly in 2021 and would need to make a major step-up to be starters.

"Mason and Dwayne have had their moments, but they'll have to prove that," Tomlin said. "And not only in the team development process but through playing itself.

"They're guys that start that I wouldn't characterize as every-day starters. And so they'll be given an opportunity to establish themselves, and there's going to be competition. There always is.

"I think that both guys have positioned themselves to fight that fight with what they've done from a work standpoint and a professionalism standpoint in 2021."

Patrick Mahomes revealed the Kansas City Chiefs were motivated by being "p****d off" by a slow start to the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 42-21 blowout win.

The Chiefs were shut out in the first quarter by a Steelers team that snuck into the playoffs as the seven seed and then fell behind when T.J. Watt returned a Mecole Hardman fumble for a touchdown.

But Mahomes took over thereafter, throwing for 404 yards and five touchdowns, a sole interception in the first quarter the only blemish on a blistering performance.

Tight end Travis Kelce also threw a touchdown on a trick play as the Chiefs turned on the style in setting up a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game with the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round.

"I think we were all p****d off at ourselves," Mahomes said in his media conference. "We felt like we weren't playing with enough energy, we felt like we weren't executing at a high enough level and not playing with enough urgency.

"So, I feel like guys really motivated themselves. We all kind of talked, it wasn't like one person talking, it was everybody talking to each other, and we came with a different urgency starting in the second quarter and carried it the rest of the game.

"Playing in the postseason games, we have young dudes who hadn't played yet, so they got to get that experience this week.

"And we have those vets that have been in here before and showed that with how Tyreek [Hill] and Trav [Kelce] stepped up in big ways to kind of get us sparked and get us rolling again."

On the matchup with the Bills, who crushed the New England Patriots on Saturday behind a sensational five-touchdown performance from quarterback Josh Allen, Mahomes said: "Yeah I mean you expect a really good football team that's going to play really hard. We're expecting a fight, we're expecting a battle. 

"They have a great offense, great defense, great special teams, and we played them in the AFC Championship last year, and we know that it's going to be another fight for us if we want to try to move on to the AFC Championship Game this year."

Ben Roethlisberger reflected with pride on an 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers as he looks ahead to the next chapter.

There was to be no magical ending for Roethlisberger as Pittsburgh fell to a 42-21 reverse against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round on Sunday.

The Steelers quarterback threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 29-of-44 passing, but he also had to watch Patrick Mahomes' brilliance cut open his side and end their postseason bid.

While Roethlisberger has not specifically said he is retiring, he hinted at as much after bidding a tearful farewell to Heinz Field following a Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns.

On Sunday, the two-time Super Bowl winner, who has donned the Steelers' black and gold for his entire career, spoke glowingly of his time in Pittsburgh as he looked back on his time with the franchise.

He said post-game: "Yeah it's tough, but I'm proud to play with these guys. God has blessed me with an ability to throw a football and has blessed me to play in the greatest city, in Pittsburgh, with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players. 

"And it has just been truly a blessing, and I'm so thankful to him for the opportunity that he's given me.

"Just a bunch of guys that fought for each other, that fought their butts off and just competed. It wasn't always pretty, but there are a lot of games that we found a way. 

"I'm so proud of this group of men and the way they fight for each other, for the black and gold, for our fans. It's just been an honour to play with them."

Roethlisberger's opposite number Mahomes finished with 404 passing yards and five touchdowns, and the veteran heaped praise on his fellow quarterback, who will next face the Buffalo Bills.

Mahomes responded in kind as he congratulated Roethlisberger on his Hall of Fame career.

"[He is] a tremendous player that I have a ton of respect for – the way he plays the game, the competitor that he is," Mahomes said. 

"He's won Super Bowls. He's a guy that I've watched growing up, and I have a ton of respect for him. That's what I told him, that if this is his last game, he did it the right way."

Roethlisberger is now hoping this Steelers team can carry on the legacy he has left behind.

"I've been here a long time, and it's been a lot of fun," Roethlisberger added. 

"Like I said, God has blessed me. We joke about the Browns and going there [in the NFL Draft], but it was meant to be that I was going to wear black and gold. Draft day I had a black suit on with a gold tie.

"I'm just so thankful. I hope that I'm able to pass the legacy of what it is to be a Steeler from Dan Rooney. We all miss him, anyone that knew him misses him. 

"Hopefully I can pass some of that on to some of the guys and they can continue the tradition of what it means to be a Steeler and get passed down.

"Whenever you get a bunch of new guys, once you start to lose some of the old regime if you will, you've got to find ways to pass it down. 

"And we've got some guys in there that will continue to do that. I gave Cam [Heyward] a big hug and told him it's on him now. It's his job to pass it down and to keep teaching and holding guys to the Pittsburgh standard."

As Roethlisberger prepares for whatever the next challenge is that is thrown his way, he remains thankful for the opportunities he has had, including the Steelers' improbable progression to the playoffs following a dramatic end to the regular season.

"We thought last week was going to be the end," he continued. "We didn't know what was going to happen and God blessed me to play another football game. 

"It didn't end the way we wanted it to. But it's a blessing to be able to play this game. I try and tell those guys how lucky we are that we get to play football for a living. We need to count our blessings and understand how lucky we are. 

"We're out there getting beat up and this and that, but we get to entertain millions of fans and throw, catch, run, do what we've all done as kids. That's our job and when we say our prayers thank God for that.

"I don't know if it's emotional because it's the end of the season. I mean, this would be emotional no matter what. We never like to lose and go out and I'll miss these guys. It'll probably really hit me come training camp time."

The Kansas City Chiefs set up a mouth-watering AFC Divisional Round matchup with the Buffalo Bills with a 42-21 blowout Wild Card round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh snuck into the playoffs as the seventh seed and, when T.J. Watt returned Mecole Hardman's fumble for a touchdown to open the scoring after a hugely impressive defensive performance in the first quarter, the Steelers would have been forgiven for thinking about a monumental upset.

Yet any such thoughts were quickly proven to be pipe dreams as the Chiefs took over, with Patrick Mahomes in blistering form as he threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns, a sole interception in the first quarter the only blemish on an otherwise sensational showing.

It means Mahomes will face off with Bills quarterback Josh Allen, himself fresh off a remarkable performance against the New England Patriots, in a repeat of last year's AFC Championship Game, while Ben Roethlisberger's career is likely over, the Steelers quarterback having said a tearful farewell to Heinz Field after their Week 17 win over the Clevaland Browns.

Roethlisberger will call it a career with two Super Bowl titles to his name, and Mahomes appears excellently positioned to tie that tally this season after dicing up the Steelers after the first-quarter shutout.

Touchdown throws to Jerick McKinnon and Byron Pringle restored order for the Chiefs after the Steelers' strong start and Mahomes capped the first half with a 48-yard toss to Travis Kelce, the tight end rumbling into the endzone after his former MVP quarterback executed a deep pass while rolling to his right with a degree of nonchalance.

A short scoring toss to offensive lineman Nick Allegretti and a 31-yard teardrop to Tyreek Hill ended any doubt over the final outcome, the final flourish coming when Kelce connected with Pringle on a two-yard trick play.

That touchdown sandwiched by two for Roethlisberger on passes to Diontae Johnson and James Washington before the seconds ticked down on a Hall of Fame career.

After the Patriots saw their playoff campaign emphatically come to an end on Saturday, the man who left New England to further his legacy begins his quest for an eighth ring on Sunday.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be expected to win in routine fashion in their Wild Card round matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, while the team they beat in last season's Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs, are anticipated to end Ben Roethlisberger's career with a routine victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sandwiched between those two potential blowouts is the game of the weekend as two storied rivals, the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, contest a long overdue renewal of acquaintances in the postseason.

As Stats Perform's look at Sunday's action explains, both the Niners and the Cowboys possess the offense firepower to ensure the matchup lives up to its lofty expectations.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The defending champion Bucs are unsurprisingly the heavy favourites against an Eagles team that claimed nine wins in the regular season, none of which came against an opponent that made the postseason.

Not much stock will be put in the history of this encounter, even if it does make pleasant reading for any Eagles fans looking for reason for hope.

The Eagles and Buccaneers have split their 20 all-time meetings, with each team winning eight regular-season games and two in postseason play. Their only postseason matchup in Tampa was a 24-17 win by the Bucs in 1979, their first-ever playoff win.

All eyes at Raymond James Stadium will be on Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, who is set for another piece of history in his seemingly endless career.

Brady will be playing in his 19th postseason and in his 46th career playoff start, the most by any player in NFL history. At age 44, Brady will break his own record for the oldest quarterback to start a playoff game. Brady has more playoff wins since turning 36 years old (17) than any other QB has in his entire career.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have activated wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster off injured reserve ahead of their playoff showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Smith-Schuster has not played since Week 5, when he suffered what was thought to have been a season-ending shoulder injury against the Denver Broncos.

After recovering from surgery, he is expected to play at least some part against the Chiefs in the Wild Card round game on Sunday after practising on Thursday and Friday.

"God answered my prayers and I've recovered from my season-ending shoulder injury earlier than expected," Smith-Schuster wrote on Twitter.

"I can't believe I get another chance to take the field with this team and play in a playoff game to keep our season alive."

Kansas City beat Pittsburgh at home in Week 16, 36-10, their largest win over the Steelers in 36 all-time meetings.

The Steelers go in as heavy underdogs against the Chiefs, though they received a further boost when running back Najee Harris was removed from the injury report after recovering from an elbow injury.

This could be Smith-Schuster's last game with the Steelers given he is due to enter free agency after the season, while eyes are also on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to retire after the playoffs.

"He had a pretty significant injury," Roethlisberger told 102.5 WDVE this week about the receiver's possible return.

"The way JuJu plays the game is physical. We all know it. We all love it. He could boost this offense. Even if it's just a few plays, the energy, the encouragement he brings on the sideline. 

"Anything like that, to have one of your guys out there would be huge for us."

Roethlisberger has thrown for 970 yards in his last two postseason games, both losses. That is the most passing yards by any player in a span of two playoff games. 

The veteran will face off against Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes.

Chiefs QB Mahomes has thrown for two touchdowns and four interceptions in his two Super Bowl appearances, but in his six other playoff games, he has thrown 15 touchdown passes and no picks. 

Per Stats Perform data, Mahomes is just the second player ever (after Drew Brees) with 17+ passing touchdowns and no more than four interceptions in his first eight playoff starts.

The Jacksonville Jaguars helped the Pittsburgh Steelers virtually secure a playoff place as they stunned the Indianapolis Colts in their regular-season finale.

Indianapolis needed only to beat a two-win Jaguars team to secure their place in the postseason.

History, however, was against Frank Reich's team, the Colts having not won in Jacksonville since the 2014 season.

And the Jags' home hoodoo over the Colts continued as Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz imploded in a 26-11 defeat.

Wentz was sacked six times in a game the Jaguars led the entire way, rookie first overall pick Trevor Lawrence throwing multiple touchdowns for the first time since Week 1.

The dagger effectively came when Lawrence capitalised on Wentz's lone interception, the former Philadelphia Eagle picked by Jags linebacker Damien Wilson in the third quarter.

Lawrence then successfully handled a high snap from center, rolled to his right and lofted a three-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr, who made a leaping grab in the back of the endzone.

The Colts were eliminated from the playoffs after the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens in overtime. The Steelers will qualify unless the Los Angeles Chargers' game with the Las Vegas Raiders ends in a tie.

Despite the win, the Jaguars claim the number one pick in the 2022 draft by virtue of the Detroit Lions' win over the Green Bay Packers, who rested players for much of the game.

Titans take one seed

The Kansas City Chiefs kept the pressure on the Titans with their win in Denver on Saturday, but Tennessee did not waste the opportunity to clinch the one seed, though they received a scare from the lowly Houston Texans.

Tennessee surged to a 21-0 lead, only for the Texans to respond with 18 unanswered points of their own. Ryan Tannehill's fourth touchdown pass, on which he hit Julio Jones for the receiver's first touchdown as a Titan, gave them breathing room that proved enough as they hung on for a 28-25 win after Danny Amendola's second touchdown reception frayed the nerves.

Watt ties sack record as Steelers stay alive

Ben Roethlisberger bid a tearful farewell to Heinz Field in the Steelers' home finale on Monday, but his likely final season in the NFL looks like being extended into the Wild Card round.

The Steelers fought back from 10-3 down to lead 13-10 on a Roethlisberger pass to Chase Claypool and, though Justin Tucker's field goal forced overtime, the leg of Chris Boswell had the final say, giving the Steelers a 16-13 victory in a game that saw T.J. Watt tie Michael Strahan's single-season sack record as he took his tally to 22.5.

With Chargers head coach Brandon Staley saying they would not play for a tie that would punch the postseason ticket for them and the Raiders, the Steelers' spot seems virtually assured.

The 18th and final round of the NFL regular season is upon us and there remains plenty of intrigue in a frantic scramble to make it to the playoffs.

Five teams from the AFC are competing for two postseason berths, while one spot is up for grabs in the NFC. 

Away from the Super Bowl picture, there are a number of other intriguing subplots ahead of an action-packed weekend.

Stats Perform previews some of the standout games and the best of the rest.


Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) @ Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

The winner of this contest is guaranteed a playoff spot, while there is also a scenario whereby a tie could see both advance. Interestingly, six of the previous seven games in Oakland/Las Vegas have been decided by three points or fewer.

The Raiders beat the Colts on a last-second field goal last week to prevail 23-20 – their fifth win of the season by four points or fewer, tied with the Packers and the Titans for the most in the NFL.

Justin Herbert set the single-season passing touchdowns record for the Chargers last week with his 35th of the campaign. He now requires 172 yards this week to also take the passing-yards record.

The Chargers' 34-13 win against the Broncos was their fourth victory in a win while scoring 30 points or more. They have averaged 33.9 points per game in wins this season, second most in the NFL behind the Bills (35.1).

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

The Steelers have won three in a row against the Ravens, with all three of those victories being decided by less than a touchdown, the most recent coming by a 20-19 scoreline last month.

Last week's 12-point win over the Browns was the Steelers' largest of the season, though not since 1969 have they gone a full campaign without winning by at least 13 points.

The Ravens are coming off the back of a 20-19 loss to the Rams, their league-leading eighth game decided by three or fewer points this season – no team in NFL history has had more than nine games decided by three or fewer points.

Najee Harris rushed for 188 of the Steelers' 190 rushing yards against the Browns and accounts for 77.9 per cent of his side's rush yards this season, the highest share of any player in the NFL.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) @ Denver Broncos (7-9)

The Chiefs will be looking to respond to their defeat against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 17 when they take on the Broncos, whom they have defeated in 12 successive meetings – the league's joint-longest active winning streak along with the New England Patriots against the New York Jets.

Despite last week's defeat, the Chiefs have scored at least 30 points in four successive games, which is the longest-running streak in the NFL and one short of their all-time record of five set in 2004 and 2018.

Kansas lead the way in the NFL with 391 first downs this season and, with nine more this weekend, will become the fifth team in the last 70 years with 400 or more first downs in a season.

The Broncos were defeated by the Chargers last time out to ensure a losing season for the fifth straight year, an unwanted run they last went on from 1963 to 1972 with 10 straight losing seasons.

Elsewhere...

The Jaguars require a victory against the Colts to avoid becoming the fourth team in the last 30 years to have consecutive seasons with two or fewer wins. The Colts have lost three games this season by exactly three points – the Seahawks are the only team this season that has failed to win a single game by three or fewer points with more losses in such games (0-5).

The Rams can clinch their third NFC West title in six seasons season since moving back to Los Angeles with victory over the 49ers. However, the Niners have won each of their last five meetings with the Rams.

The Falcons have three successive wins against the Saints in Atlanta and are seeking a fourth in a row for the first time since between 1991 and 1994. Following defeat to the Bills last week, the Falcons have alternated between wins and losses over their last seven games.

The Bills can clinch their second consecutive division title with victory against the Jets, following on from a previous run of 24 straight seasons without finishing top. All 10 of Buffalo's wins this season have come by 12 points or more.

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