Starting Mason Rudolph could prove to be a lose-lose scenario for Steelers

Mason Rudolph #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Mason Rudolph #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Steelers could lose a chance at the number two seed

Even if the Steelers win this week, they aren’t guaranteed to land the number two seed heading into the playoffs. In order for this to happen, Pittsburgh will also require a Bills loss to the Dolphins. At 10-5, however, Miami is on the outside looking in and they require a win this week to get into the tournament.

The Steelers will be in the playoffs regardless, but knowing the Browns also need a win this week, Tomlin is essentially conceding defeat to Cleveland in Week 17 by deploying Mason Rudolph. While Cleveland miraculously dropped a game to the New York Jets last week, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has been surprisingly good this year – earning a 95.8 quarterback rating on the season so far. If the Steelers choose to rest some of their older defenders, Rudolph could have an extremely difficult time keeping pace with Cleveland’s offense.

Here’s where things get dicey. I know Mike Tomlin is thinking about Ben’s health heading into the playoffs, but losing a chance at the number two seed would be a massive blown opportunity. If the Steelers run into Kansas City in the playoffs, their run almost surely ends there. On the other hand, if they were able to reclaim the number two seed, they could force Buffalo to eventually try to knock out the Chiefs before playing the Steelers in the AFC Championship. I like our chances much better if that game came down to the Bills playing Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.