Will Browns be motivated enough to dash Steelers playoff hopes?

brownssteelers open

chudzinski presserI have no doubt that on Sunday the Cleveland Browns players will be trying to win as they’re somewhere near a touchdown underdog on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t believe that players and coaches involved in an NFL schedule think about the NFL draft or anything other than doing their jobs and maybe trying to have fun as they play out their schedule. The Browns might not win this weekend in Pittsburgh, and they might even be generally unmotivated, but it won’t be “tanking” if they lose.

In a violent game like NFL football, we’ve seen what can happen to a quarterback who gets lazy in pursuit of the safety of out-of-bounds lines and take an unnecessary hit.  In a game where players get hurt all the time while trying their hardest, the injury rate has to be even higher when players are laying off and only half playing. There’s no way of measuring this, of course, but it makes loads of sense.

What does this mean for the Browns game this weekend? I have no real idea other than it will reflect on Rob Chudzinski and the Browns’ leaders in the locker room. Regardless of outcome, we’ll know in the first quarter if these guys have shown up to play hard or not. We’ll know if they have any pride left to drop on this year’s lost NFL season. Will they be content to just ride it out, or are they truly motivated to beat their fans’ biggest rivals and decimate what little playoff hopes the Steelers have?

Yes, the Steelers still have some playoff chances. At 7-8, the Steelers need some help, but according to ESPN’s calculations, the Steelers have a 9.1% chance of making the playoffs. They can do so, by beating the Browns first and foremost, while seeing Baltimore, San Diego and Miami all lose. Baltimore is on the road against the Bengals, the Dolphins are at home against the Jets, and the Chargers are at home against the Chiefs. It’s remote, but it’s possible.

That’s what makes the NFL so tough to predict. How do you predict motivation? Will the Browns be motivated by their first-year head coach? Will the Steelers be unmotivated if they happen to catch the Ravens vs. Bengals score at halftime and the Ravens are leading by three scores? None of us can possibly predict all those things.

One thing that I can predict though, the Browns won’t be actively tanking for draft picks. Players and coaches work in mysterious ways, but I truly don’t think they work like that.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    This one will be over quickly. I no longer labor under the delusion that this team–coaches or players–feels any more animosity toward the yinzers than they do against any other team. That saddens me as a fan, but the on-field rivalry is dead. Figure on a two-score deficit after the first quarter, and a final score of something like 34-13 bad guys. Let the draft talk begin!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Agreed. Notice that I said the “fans’ biggest rivals” in the post in order to delineate.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I’m hoping that Chud can motivate them that this game is a precursor for next season. Being swept by the third-place team in the division makes the Ws against CIN and BAL look like flukes and basically says this team is yearS away from even contending for the division.

    A win on Sunday instead gets us splits with everyone in the division and lets the team go into next year believing that with a little help at QB and some other areas this team can truly compete next year for the division. That’s a big difference.

  • Kildawg

    I would think that getting a .500 record in the division and securing a losing season for That Team to the East would be sufficient motivation, plus that team’s penchant for taking out guys in orange helmets…

  • MrCleaveland

    It’s sad that we waited anxiously for 9 months in anticipation of the 2013 season, and now here we sit again in our usual pile of ashes.

    Happy 49th anniversary, fans.

  • MrCleaveland

    I found it amusing that the Steelers gave their old pal James Harrison a concussion the other week.

  • mgbode

    just a reminder that this still can be the first season in NFL history that the Browns beat the Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers.

  • Wow

    I don’t even think the game will be close.

  • Rick Manning

    My prediction: Campbell will leave by early 2nd quarter with “concussion symptoms”, Weeden steps in and gets benched after throwing 3 picks. Alex Tanney mops up and the final score is something like 34-3. Bring on the draft.

  • Steve_Not_Chad

    There’s a ton of fan-based motivation, but I don’t know what would be the player- based motivation, outside of “Let’s just get this over with, and hope nobody gets hurt”.

  • TSM

    I was there with my best friend who was from Baltimore. At least I can say I personally saw a Cleveland championship in my lifetime. :)

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    at least ryan miller won’t be around to get thad lewis and josh johnson crushed on back-to-back plays.
    http://jimkanicki.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/ryanmiller75.mp4

  • HopalongCassidy

    Sorry, not going to happen this year folks.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Craig unfortunately it’ll take more then motivation. Talent as well as execution are just as important. For me the last two are severely lacking on this team. I remember when people were having a laugh at the Steelers expense earlier in the season. Well who is laughing now? I don’t expect Sunday to be any different.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    How much you bet on the game?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    The only real talent difference I see is QB play. The Steelers have a good one, as much as we hate Rapey Ben… he’s a quality QB. Until the Browns have a better QB than the Steelers, they will lose more head-to-head matchups than they win.

  • The Angry Fan

    What’s really sad is that the Steelers are a win away from .500 in a bad season by their standards. In a bad season they are what we strive to become, mediocre.

  • BrownieBob

    The biggest difference is the Steelers know how to win..The Browns don’t…plus they have better coaching and so far a better overall organization…..Does anyone else notice that Carolina ( Chud ).and Arizona ( Horton ) are having great years??? oh and is there any team playing better than San Diego ( Norv ) right now????…..I am really beginning to think that the edge in the NFL after QB is coaching….the rest of the team really doesn’t matter….How does Dick Lebeau continue to have a top flight defense with constant turnover and guys that are ancient???…..Funny how guys like Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelley just turn crap teams into winners overnite…..Trestman?…playing for the division title…..Bruce Arians??? will be coach of the year again with a different team….While we think we have a good coaching core do we really???…I think the putrid lack of execution and ability to finish tells me that we got bamboozled…..ughhhhhhhh…..Thoughts?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Antonio Brown is a stud at WR he’s Josh Gordon with a brain. Bell at RB has really come on now that he’s healthy. The Steelers OL is just as good now after being physically decimated to start the season. They don’t have a TE now with Miller diminished but the Browns can’t use Cameron right anymore so that is a toss up. The Steelers LBs are better they can certainly blitz better and their secondary is better. Oh and their coaching isn’t to shabby. I’m not completely down on Chud or his fellow coaches I’d like to see him, Turner and Horton all return for continuity purposes but it’s not like they “coached up” their players that well. Granted based upon my break down to start there needs to be a serious infusion of talent come this summer. I’m looking right at you Bannardi!

  • mgbode

    There you go. Big win for the browns

  • mgbode

    Like the optimism but it’ll be though for the browns to win by over thirty

  • Henry Brown

    I’m sure it was just a coincidence. They don’t target players heads to knock them out of the game. The fact that it happens in every game is just the steeler way.

  • Wow

    Haha well played sir.

  • nobody

    Funny how Arians was in Cleveland the few years Cleveland looked decent (when Butch Davis was coach)…though I honestly feel with 4-5 years of this coaching staff, this team will look like a competent team (hopefully the staff isn’t dumped again by then).

  • @TheDeePagel

    I have to disagree. Professional players and coaches don’t live in a bubble just because they are professionals. All of them know how important this rivalry is to the fans and city. Now, they have been losers of it a ton recently, but just because they lose doesn’t make the onfield rivalry dead….it simply makes it one sided. We get the Steelers twice a year….I refuse to allow that excitement and enjoyment and that feeling of being pumped up right before kickoff be taken from me just because they have lost more then I would have liked. I’m not going to pretend there is no rivalry and excuse it away be making claims that the players aren’t aware of it or feel indifferent to it. I am thirsty for a win, and because its the Steelers, I am even more rabid for it. I have complete confidence the players feel the same way. Don’t confuse losing for apathy.

    Go Browns. Beat the #%&$ out of the Steelers.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    As a fan, i love your passion on the topic. I only wish the players who affect the game’s outcome had some of that. Maybe someday.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Well fortunately continuity is the Cleveland Way, so we should be fine.

  • Sovietskya Sovietskya

    Apparently not.

  • Sovietskya Sovietskya

    Apparently not

  • Sovietskya Sovietskya

    Apparently so