Pittsburgh Steelers Cannot Overlook the Cleveland Browns

By Jeff Hartman
Pittsburgh Steelers
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

AFC Playoff scenarios abound in regards to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their chances of making the postseason. Several events need to take place before the Steelers do the improbable and make the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins all need to lose, but there is one factor that most Pittsburgh fans are forgetting. The Steelers need to defeat the Cleveland Browns for any of this to even matter. If the Steelers lose to the Browns at Heinz Field on Sunday then all the scenarios and discussion is wasted time and energy.

History tells us that the Steelers shouldn’t have any issues with the Browns this Sunday, but fans shouldn’t be writing a ‘W’ on their schedules in pen because there is nothing that the Browns would rather do than to knock the Steelers out of playoff contention for good. Plain and simple, for the Browns, this is their Super Bowl.

Regardless of record, the Browns are still a formidable foe for the Steelers, especially on the defensive side of the football. The Browns are a defense that is above average in terms of statistics and averages. In fact, the Browns’ defense and the Steelers’ defense mirror one another. The Browns are better at defending against the pass than they are the run but are a defense that is capable at getting after the quarterback and being disruptive as well as taking the football away.

Ask any casual fan if this game is even a contest in regards to who wins and who loses, and to a person they will tell you that the Steelers should win the game in decisive fashion. Common sense tells you that is the way that you should lean in terms of making your pick, but the reality of the situation is that as important as this game is for the Steelers Sunday a letdown is a possibility. Just as this is the Browns’ Super Bowl, so should it be for the Steelers for one simple reason. Nothing is guaranteed in this league, and their postseason hopes still hinge on a victory.

The Browns are 1-9 in their last 10 games and have only won two games against the Steelers in their last 20 meetings, but that all gets thrown out the window this Sunday. For the Steelers this is a game, and this opponent cannot be overlooked. Their postseason hopes rely on it.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+.

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