Browns vs. Steelers – Week 17
Pittsburgh’s record: 11-4 (tied for first in the AFC North)
Offensive rank: 11th overall/9th passing/16th rushing
Defensive rank: 1st overall/1st passing/9th rushing
All-time record: Steelers lead, 63-56 (counting postseason). The Browns are 35-23 at home against the Steelers
Last meeting: Pittsburgh won, 14-3, in Week 14
The line: Browns (+7)
What to Watch For
With last week’s loss to the Ravens, the Browns earned their fourth consecutive 11 loss season. They are the only NFL team to pull off that dubious accomplishment.
So what better way to close out the season than to host a Pittsburgh team that is No. 1 in defense and playing for a No. 2 seed and first-round bye in the playoffs?
The fact that the Steelers have something to play for works in Cleveland’s favor, as the Browns still have an opportunity to maximize their draft position. And really, this time of year in Cleveland, what else is there to talk about?
While we will never root for the Browns to lose, a loss on Sunday will at least be more palatable knowing it will give the Browns the No. 4 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Plus, while a win on Sunday would be nice, there is always the fear that, by beating the Steelers, fans will lose sight of how much work still lies ahead for the team, much like what happened in 2009, when the Browns beat the Steelers late in the year in the most over-rated win in franchise history.
“I think you remember what happened most recently and I think anytime you can win your last game I think it makes you feel good as you move forward,” coach Pat Shurmur said in his Friday press conference. “Then regardless of what happens, there are ways that we have to improve so that’s not lost on me either. What’s at task now is playing the Pittsburgh Steelers and doing what we have to do to get a victory.”
Seneca Wallace will get the start again at quarterback, which, according to him, is all that matters. Apparently helping Colt McCoy learn the offense and, you know, making the team better isn’t a priority in Seneca’s world.
“That was Jake (Delhomme’s) deal,” Wallace told The Plain Dealer when asked if he mentored McCoy this season. “He did a lot of some stuff with him last year. But that’s not my thing. It’s just one thing I don’t do. I came in with the mind-set I wanted to compete, whatever case that was.”
Way to be a team player.
On the defensive side, it will be interesting to see how cornerbacks Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown match up with receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.
According to Pro Football Focus, Haden and Brown did not allow a single reception last week against Baltimore. Brown has had two solid games in a row since giving up four catches and a touchdown against the Steelers, and Haden has allowed just two catches for 18 yards in the past two games.
The Browns are just too limited on offense to put up much of a fight against a Pittsburgh team with something to play for.
We’ll take the Steelers minus the points.
Record picking the Browns (using the point spread) this year: 8-6-1.
(Photo courtesy of Cleveland.com)