By DaVince “Dino” Wright
Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Monday – January 3 – 7:15 p.m.
Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, PA
Records Before the Game
Cleveland Brown (7-8, 2-5 Away)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1, 5-2-1 Home)
The AFC conference is all jumbled up from the wild card spots to the teams still in the hunt for the playoffs to some of the seeding. You have nine teams fighting for three spots! I could go on and on and on about which team needs a win or which team needs other teams to win or lose. Yeah! It’s that confusing… Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could be making his last stand at home. This his 18th season and is looking to get his 25th win over the Browns. A win gets him closer and a loss would allow him to start planning his retirement after this season. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s Monday Night Football matchup.
AFC Playoff Picture
Both teams are on the outside looking in. The Browns have been mathematically eliminated at this point so they’re playing for pride and their jobs for next season. The Steelers on the other hand have a 4% chance of making the playoffs before the start of this game. A win tonight at home will give them a boost. Stranger things have happened this season in the NFL.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield will be the key for his team. He has played through sickness and injuries this season. I’m surprised that the team hasn’t shut him down from for the rest of the season. The Browns offense is ranked 16th overall. They are 3rd in rushing, passing 27th and 19th in scoring. Running back Nick Chubb has been the workhorse for the offense, but do you really want an injured quarterback throwing the ball? It makes no sense, that’s why this team is struggling. Look for the defense to apply pressure on Ben Roethlisberger early and often. Keep an eye on the Browns linebackers. Applying pressure and stopping the run is key!
Big Ben at home at Heinz Field will be one to watch tonight. Over his career, Ben has punished the Browns for years. The Steelers offense has been less than what anyone has expected this year. Running back Najee Harris has been the guy that has kept this offense relevant over the past five games. He has 84 yards on the ground with 6 touchdowns on 268 attempts. In their last five games, the Steelers are 2-3 and are limping into this game tonight. With four players listed as out on the defensive side, Pittsburgh has to score points in every quarter to stay close heading into the 4th quarter to have a chance.
ESPN has the Browns with a 53.9% chance of winning on the road. The over/under is 42, so take the under, it’s the safe bet. I’m take Cleveland by 4!
Browns – 17
Steelers – 13
By DaVince “Dino” Wright