Steelers Bengals Football

Quarterback Devlin Hodges reacts last Sunday after the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Man, I miss Mason Rudolph already!

Does anybody think it’s a coincidence that Rudolph isn’t starting today’s game in Pittsburgh against the Cleveland Browns. Out of sight; out of mind.

The fiasco about two weeks ago when Rudolph initiated a brawl that resulted in massive fines and suspensions had a lot to do with the fact that he is out as starting quarterback and Devlin “Duck” Hodges is in.

Consider that much of the controversy would have continued if he was the QB. The fact that he is a terrible quarterback also could have something to do with the benching, but I’m sure the NFL appreciates a break from possible continued problems.

A lot goes on behind closed doors that the public never finds out. I heard a rumor that Rudolph is one of the most disliked players in the league. I don’t know if it is true, but he is one of my most disliked players. And I don’t think too many Steelers fans care for him either.

I would not be surprised if Rudolph is cut at the end of the season. 

Hodges has looked fair in the times he was behind center, but remember: Everybody loves a backup quarterback until he no longer is the backup. Now the pressure is on.

Luckily for Duck, the Browns’ biggest hunter Myles Garrett is suspended for the season. But unluckily for Duck, his All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey is suspended for this game. Losing a center of his caliber, who calls the blocking schemes, is costly.

The Steelers players have rallied around Hodges and people talk about his confidence. We’ll see how that confidence holds up against the Browns’ pass rush. 

Hodges was adequate against Cincinnati last week, but there is a reason the Bengals haven’t won a game all season. And he will be playing without his top receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and possibly the best running back, James Conner.

With outstanding running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt creating nightmares for Pittsburgh’s defense, it will open up the passing game for Baker Mayfield and his great receiving group. The probable return of tight end David Njoku from the injury list would also be huge. 

Earlier this week on my weekly podcast “Behind The Lines”, with my co-host Bob Greenburg, I predicted Cleveland would win 20-16. But I have had some time to rethink that decision. 

I don’t know how this game can be close. The talent level between the two teams is wide. The Browns are making an improbable playoff run so I see Cleveland winning, 27-13.

Last week my picks went 8-5 for a season mark of 95-68. Following are the rest of this week’s predictions (betting line in parentheses just for fun): 

Kansas City (-10) over Oakland

Denver (plus 2 1/2) over LA Chargers

Houston (plus 3) over New England

San Fran (plus 6) over Baltimore

LA Rams (-3) over Arizona

Green Bay (-6 1/2) over NY Giants

Carolina (-10) over Washington

Tennessee (plus 2 1/2) over Indy

Philly (-9) over Miami

Tampa (plus 1) over Jacksonville

Cincy (plus 3 1/2) over NY Jets

Seattle (-3) over Minnesota

LYNN SATERNOW is sports editor of The Herald and The Allied News. He can be reached at lsaternow@sharonherald.com

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