Bold Predictions: Steelers vs. Browns

Well fans, it’s the final week of the regular season! The Steelers have already secured the 3 seed in the playoffs, so the outcome of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns doesn’t matter for anything other than record and/or pride. (Because, Pittsburgh cannot “lose” their current postseason seeding.)

With that said, there’s a few predictions to be made still! But before I do that, let’s have a look at last week’s predictions:

  • The Steelers did not beat the spread (5.5 point favorites: 31-24 final – darn you Vegas!)
  • Bell embarrasses the Ravens D
    • He didn’t go for 150, but Bell had 137 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns, so I’ll call this a win.
  • Flacco did not get sacked four times (only twice)
  • Justin Tucker misses (he technically didn’t get to kick the bad snap, but it was a “missed” field goal try.)

Not too bad (if I don’t say so myself).

Who’s in/out?

This week, let’s start with who is, and isn’t, playing in this game. We’re told that Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will not play in this game. Now, that doesn’t mean someone won’t be inactive. I feel that Ben has to be active, just in case Landry gets hurt, but will he be?

I’m not positive.

Typically, at least one of the quarterbacks is inactive for the game. That would be Zach Mettenberger, who could also get a helmet on Sunday.

My prediction is that Mettenberger does not play.

Not one snap!

I know people are pining for Landry Jones‘ job, and given that Jones’ contract is up after this season, I don’t see any reason for the Steelers to take him out of this game. Let’s see if he’s worth retaining or not. This could also be his audition for another job elsewhere, if he’s not resigned.

Some of you probably think I’m crazy, but trust me when I tell you, Mettenberger is not the answer either.

If this game is remotely close, Zach does not play.

Another player who may not play is DeAngelo Williams: why risk it? The guy’s been hurt! We could use the depth, just in case something were to happen to Bell in the playoffs.

Why would we want to be down two running backs again?

I also think James Harrison gets the veteran consideration and isn’t active Sunday. If you’re keeping tabs, here’s the full list of inactives, which is set at 7:

Lawrence Timmons gets the veteran treatment too, and won’t play, but the latter 4 names are all injured (or in Green’s case, coming out of concussion protocol). There’s no reason to risk playing them.

Starting lineup

So now what to predict? How about who does start!

Offense Defense
WR E.Rogers LDE R.Mathews
LT A.Villanueva NT D.McCullers
LG R.Foster RDE L.Walton
C B.J. Finney LOLB A.Chickillo
RG D.Decastro LILB V.Williams
RT C.Hubbard RILB T.Matakevich
TE J.James ROLB A.Moats
RB F.Toussaint LCB J.Gilbert
QB L.Jones FS J.Dangerfield
WR C.Hamilton SS R.Golden
WR D.Ayers RCB R.Cockrell

Vince Williams leads in tackles

Remember when Vince went on the warpath subbing in for Ryan Shazier? Yeah, that will happen again this week, as Shazier and Timmons both sit.

Justin Gilbert plays against his former team

Gilbert gets a helmet and will play in place of Artie Burns. That’s what I feel.

Now, you can’t sit everyone… but you can spare most of the players.

Gilbert will get his chance…

Jones throws at least three touchdowns

Sure, why not? Landry Jones nearly did that against New England!

Okay, he threw one, but had a pick in the endzone intended for AB, and another touchdown to DHB called back for a bad holding penalty.

Still no reason to think he can’t get this job done against the Browns 21st ranked pass defense! (Though the run game might dictate otherwise against the league’s next-to-last run D, but I think the run sets up the pass in this game.)

Cleveland loses

I’ve said this many times over the last week, including on the SCU Podcast, that the Browns will have pride on the line and will play hard in this game as to not lose to a bunch of backup players.

On the flip side, the Steelers fill-ins don’t see much playing time, and will be actively playing their hardest, to show the coaches (and not just the Steelers staff, but those around the league) that they can hang in the NFL.

Even though the Browns won last week against San Diego, I don’t see the Steelers making enough mistakes in this one to let it slip, at home, to end the season.

Mark it down: the “Replacements” beat the Browns!

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