Duel Opinions: What are the keys to beating the Browns?
Each week the Steel City Underground staff will put their brilliant minds to task in order to come up with their keys to the game, or, those players, coaching decisions, or situations which could determine the outcome of the game.
The SCU panel gives their thoughts on Sunday’s keys to winning the game.
This game will only mean something if the team looks up at that shiny new scoreboard at Heinz Field and sees that the Patriots and Jets game (also being played at 1pm) is close. If the Jets somehow managed the upset of the century by defeating New England at home, then the Steelers have to take care of business with the Browns… which shouldn’t be much of a problem, seeing as Cleveland hasn’t won a game all season and in the same position last year, the Steelers won in OT with most of their backups playing.
Therefore, the Steelers have an advantage to work in some of their backups and role players while getting some rest for the main event players. The biggest key is to get out of this game as healthy as possible. Even if that means an “L” on Sunday.
It’s almost a forgone conclusion that the Steelers will be giving many of their “starters” a breather in anticipation of the playoffs. This is the perfect opportunity for Pittsburgh to get Josh Dobbs and Landry Jones real-game snaps and improve their backup status. After all, no one wants rust when playoff advancement is on the line. The game is also an opportunity for several players to show why they should stick around after the season. That seems harsh, but a few have yet to shine in 2017 and why not take advantage of this game to make a statement?
The Browns could care less who the Steelers put on the field and would love to win, even if it is just so their fans don’t grab pitchforks and torches to visit Jimmy Haslam after the season (which could happen anyway). That means the Steelers need to play smart, fundamental football with low penalty numbers and try to limit the injuries to bumps and bruises. It’s a throwaway game for the most part, so testing optional plays in the playbook geared toward potential playoff opponents isn’t a bad idea either. Put this game in the books, Steelers, and get ready to be at your best heading into January and February.
Brian E. Roach
This could be a game with meaning if the J E T S (Jets Jets JETS) can manage to pull off a stunning upset of the Patriots in Foxboro. I think the only way that happens is if James Harrison gets confused and takes out Tom Brady on the sidelines. This is likely to be a backup fueled game that warrants the national broadcast team of Spero Dedes and Adam Archuletta (no, I don’t know who they are either).
The key to this game is to get out of it without injury. It only has meaning if the Patriots have the most massive brain fart they’ve ever had. As a wise man once said, I’d rather play the next game with a healthy Ben, Bell, Pouncey, DeCastro, Brown, and Heyward and lose this game than win and play without any of those guys. Hell, I’d even consider sitting Joe’s boyfriend Landry Jones and letting Josh Dobbs show what he can do. As I consider this game, all I keep hearing in my head is Bill Murray chanting in Meatballs “It Just Doesn’t Matter – It Just Doesn’t Matter!”
Start the starters and make Fantasy Football owners rejoice!
With one eye on our game and the other on the Pats/Jets game we still have something to play for: home-field advantage. No one expects the Jets to beat the Patriots but New England has been beaten by other bad teams and 40-year-old Brady has thrown an interception in each of their last five games. So if their game is close the Steelers need to do whatever it takes to get that final win.
The Browns are going to try everything not to go 0-16 on the season so they are playing for some kind of pride. Scattered reports are saying the Killer B’s will be resting Week 17. With a bye week as well, two weeks of no football could be an issue with playoff rust. Ben has been playing at such a high level after a slow start to the season, enough to earn his 6th Pro Bowl nod, that I would hate to see that momentum halted.
So the keys for me is to start the starters and pull them after 3rd quarter if the game is well in hand of winning.