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Steelers

Four downs: Big Ben's home-away splits striking

| Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, 9:36 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws against the Jets in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws against the Jets in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, at Heinz Field.

1. Steelers

not feeling at home

Ben Roethlisberger is generating plenty of early-season MVP chatter — and for good reason. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes and is fourth in passing yards and passer rating.

Now, just imagine if he played all his games at Heinz Field.

Over the past three seasons — more than enough time for it to be a mere aberration or small sample size — Roethlisberger's home/road splits are striking: His touchdown-to-interception ratio at Heinz Field is 51 to 13, while in other stadiums it is 17 to 16. He's averaging 341.5 passing yards at home; 286.3 on the road. His passer rating splits (111.5 to 88.3) and, most notably, win-loss record (14-3 to 9-7) also differ greatly when he plays the majority of a home game as opposed to one away from home.

And while Roethlisberger is riding the third-longest streak of home games with a touchdown pass (41), he has an away-game streak, too. He has thrown at least one interception in every road game he has played the past two seasons.

2. AFC NORTH

POSSIBLE 0-fer?

Five weeks into the season, there's just one winless team left: Of course, the Browns. Despite an overtime loss in Miami, they largely h ave earned it, too: They're last in the league in point differential. Can Cleveland become just the second 0-16 team in NFL history? The combined records of their remaining opponents is 29-27. Perhaps their best hopes for wins are home games against the two New York teams and Sunday at Tennessee. Cleveland already has used five quarterbacks. Who knows who might be under center New Year's Day for the season finale at Heinz Field?

3. NFL

not out of it yet

Ready to write off the reigning NFC champion Panthers? Did you think there was no hope for the Chargers before Thursday night's win against Denver? Maybe not. Though Carolina and San Diego each opened the season 1-4, a team that was three or more games under .500 after Week 5 or later has rebounded to make the playoffs six times over the past six seasons. Last season, Kansas City (1-5 to 11-5) and Houston (1-4 and 2-5 to 9-7) did it.

4. Fantasy

Start: QB Carson Palmer, Cardinals. His concussion behind him, Palmer gets to feast on a passing defense (the Jets) that is second worst in yardage and tied for fourth worst at allowing touchdowns.

Bench: RB Matt Jones, Redskins. Jones is treated as a fantasy No. 1 RB — but why? He has had just two career games in which he has had more than 65 rushing yards, and he has had a touchdown in just five of 18 career games.

Sleeper: WR Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs. He has been quiet this season (no touchdowns since Week 1, no games with more than 78 yards receiving), but Maclin faces the NFL's worst pass defense and should benefit from the return, in earnest, of RB Jamaal Charles.

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