Steelers Inactives Include Starting CB, Rookie RB

Ben Roethlisberger Anthony McFarland

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Ben Roethlisberger hands the ball to Anthony McFarland of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Early Sunday evening the Pittsburgh Steelers revealed their list of inactive players for the team’s primetime showdown against the Buffalo Bills. The list is headlined by starting cornerback Joe Haden, who remains out with the concussion he suffered on Monday night at home against Washington.

In a mild surprise, the Steelers also made rookie running back Anthony McFarland inactive. McFarland hasn’t been a big contributor—and had just four carries for 15 yards last week vs. Washington—but he has been active for most of the team’s games this year.

Thus far in 2020, McFarland has 27 carries for 91 yards plus five receptions on eight targets for 45 yards. The Steelers figure to lean heavily on No. 1 running back James Conner vs. the Bills, who returns after missing two games while on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Conner has appeared in 10 games this season, accounting for 145 carries for 645 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He also has 25 receptions for 145 yards.

The other names on the inactive list are all predictable, including third-string quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who has been inactive for every game this year.

OT Derwin Gray
TE Kevin Rader
DE Isaiah Buggs

Buffalo Bills Inactives

As for Sunday’s opposition, the Buffalo Bills inactive list is led by safety Jaquan Johnson, who was ruled out of the game on Friday with an ankle injury.

QB Jake Fromm
RB T.J. Yeldon
TE Tyler Kroft
DE Trent Murphy

Steelers Can Clinch the AFC North in Week 14

The Steelers will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2017, thanks to Kansas City’s 33-27 win over Miami on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Steelers can clinch the AFC North title this weekend with a victory over the Bills and a Cleveland Browns (9-3) loss to the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) on Monday Night Football.

But at this moment, the Kansas City Chiefs (12-1) are the No. 1 seed in the AFC. With a win over Buffalo, the Steelers would move back into the top position (as Pittsburgh’s loss came against an NFC team while Kansas City lost to the Las Vegas Raiders). However, if Pittsburgh loses to Buffalo, it would fall to the No. 2 seed with Buffalo remaining at No. 3.

To win on Sunday night, the Steelers figure to need to eliminate the dropped passes that have plagued them for the past two games. If the drops don’t abate, it should be interesting to see if Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin benches one or more receivers, as he recently threatened to do.

It will also be interesting to see how the Steelers handle the absence of inside linebacker Vince Williams, who was added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. Without Williams (and Devin Bush and Robert Spillane), Pittsburgh is decidedly thin at inside linebacker and figure to rely heavily on midseason trade acquisition Avery Williamson.

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