It’s the final game of the year, and who else would you want to come calling other than the Pittsburgh Steelers? The Steelers sit at 11-4 with a lot to play for still. If the Cincinnati Bengals make it into the playoffs by virtue of beating the Baltimore Ravens at home, a Steelers win makes them the #2 seed (and depending on New England’s result, possibly the top seed) with a first-round bye and home playoff game instead of taking it on the road opening weekend of the playoffs.
For the Browns, Colt McCoy, Jordan Norwood, and Tony Pashos (fist pump!) will be inactive for the Browns this afternoon as Seneca Wallace and Artis Hicks will start at quarterback and right tackle. For the Steelers, linebacker Lamarr Woodley, running back Mewelde Moore, and offensive lineman Dan Legursky are out, but Ben Roethlisberger will at least start the game as will Troy Polamalu. The hope, I’m sure, is that a 17-0 or 21-0 start for Pittsburgh may allow them to sit these guys by halftime.
I’d be lying if I told you I was pulling real hard for the Browns to win this one. I hate the Steelers as much as the next guy, but I also hate missing the chance to draft a guy with the 5th pick (or 3rd or 4th) just because I wanted to feel good for a few hours following this one. This draft class may not be the best, but I’d much rather be in the position the Browns are set up to have now than finishing 5-11 and dropping to 8th potentially.
If the Browns do want to win, though, it will involve stopping Rashard Mendenhall first and foremost. The Browns forced three turnovers in the last game, and they’ll need something dramatic like that to stun Pittsburgh with something on the line. The wind and Big Ben’s limited mobility may limit the Steeler passing game slightly, but I see the Browns struggling to cover Antonio Brown, Ward, and Heath Miller with Sheldon Brown, Patterson, Adams, and Young.
On offense, Peyton Hillis has one last chance to make a big impression and not make this his last game in a Browns’ uniform. Do the Browns need to get creative and dial up some Josh Cribbs/Seneca Wallace trickeraton? I say yes.
Game, draft, Steeler hatred, it’s all fair game in the comments section. Have at it!