Well, here we go again, I guess. The deal that was laid out for us was that if the 3-1 Browns beat the Colts and their #1 ranked defense, everyone would finally admit they are for real. But apparently we made it look too easy, because now the narrative is that the Colts weren't as good as everyone thought they were. Now we have to go to Pittsburgh and beat the 4-0 Steelers to prove that we're worth a damn. And here's my thing: why are the Steelers being anointed the "good" team in this matchup? Everyone has been critical of the Browns easy schedule, but look at who Pittsburgh has played: the Giants, Texans, Eagles, and Broncos. That is good enough for the 31st toughest schedule thus far in the league. The Browns have played the 19th toughest schedule. Seems like for the one millionth time in a row, Cleveland is getting no respect and it's us against the world.
Anyways, the fact of the matter is that the Browns do not NEED to win this game. I won't be devastated if we come out of Pittsburgh 4-2. If we win, I might book my flight to Tampa this afternoon. But if we lose, the playoffs are still well within reach. And honestly, that's why I think the Browns come out and win this game. I don't feel like we have any pressure. I know the spread is only 3.5 points, but I think the entire world is just sitting here waiting to see Cleveland get sent back to Earth and get beaten by the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the 17th straight year. Big Ben has never lost to the Browns in Pittsburgh. Yikes. But that's why I think we play well today. The underdog mentality, paired with the fact that Myles Garrett might actually kill a man today.
The only NFL player to die on the field during a game was Charles Hughes, wide receiver for the Lions who suddenly collapsed. RIP Chuck, but you may need to move over this afternoon because I think Ben Roethlisberger may be joining the club. Well, actually not Big Ben. But if Big Ben were to go down for even one play, are the Steelers really going to send Mason Rudolph into the game? People don't forget that Myles Garrett attempted murder on the football field last year, but they do seem to forget that Myles said he was provoked by a racial slur. I don't know which side is right but I do know that one person is lying and the other person's character is unrightfully ruined. And if the person lying is Mason Rudolph....well, I wouldn't want to be blocking this guy....
God, please let Big Ben get shook up for a couple plays this afternoon. Nothing major, but something enough to send him to the sidelines so we get one series with Mason Rudolph in the game. That's the content America needs to see.
Which brings me to my next point: why isn't all of America getting to see this game? I know we've got Tony Romo on the call, but why are there fifty 1 o'clock games today and only two 4 o'clock games? This game should be Sunday Night Football for sure, but at minimum it should be at 4:25 with the whole country watching. Sad!
Anyways, the key to the game for me is can the Browns get the running game going? Cleveland leads the league in rushing with over 188 yards per game, and the Steelers only give up 87 a week, putting them 4th best in the NFL. Nick Chubb would be very nice to have in a game like this, but obviously Kareem Hunt is no slouch whatsoever. If the Browns can establish the run game, the pass game will open up nicely and Baker Mayfield will be able to use all of his weapons like he did in the first half last week against the Colts. If we can't get the run game going, I just don't see Baker being able to go into Pittsburgh with his arm alone.
Still, I think the Steelers are overrated, the Browns play better as underdogs, and if you would've offered me the Browns to win just one time in Pittsburgh in the next 17 years back in 2003, I would've taken it. Today's our last chance at that.
Browns 34, Steelers 30