Pittsburgh Steelers: NFL Week 17 Prediction vs. Cleveland Browns

By Jeff Hartman
Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hanging by a thread. They are far from controlling their own destiny when it comes to their playoff odds, but just as they have all season, the Steelers simply won’t go away. The Cleveland Browns are the polar opposites. At 4-11, the Browns are staring at yet another losing season and are simply looking to play spoiler.

The Pittsburgh-Cleveland rivalry has been anything but competitive since the Browns returned to Cleveland, but don’t think that there isn’t bad blood between these two franchises that are part of one of the all-time best rivalries in the NFL. Simply put, the Browns would love to not even give the Steelers a glimpse of possibly getting to the postseason by defeating them at Heinz Field on Sunday.

On paper, this game is an easy pick. Most would say the Steelers will win and do so decisively, but there are several storylines that could impact the outcome of this must-win game for Pittsburgh.

Will the Steelers be able to remain focused on the task at hand and not scoreboard-watch and get upset by the Browns? Will the Browns be able to show up and put together a performance that will knock the Steelers out of the playoff discussion? Will the Steelers be able to run the football with the weather being a factor as rain could hinder the passing game?

All of these questions and storylines will be answered in due time. Some might see a close game on tap in the Steel City, but I see it going the other way. The Steelers have had a “one game at a time” focus for nearly half the season, and that will keep them mentally sharp in a must-win game.

Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 27 — Cleveland Browns 10

The Steelers will find a way to win a game that isn’t just a must-win, but will give them a .500 season and avoid a losing season for the first time in Ben Roethlisberger‘s career. Will the win be enough to get them into the playoffs? The odds aren’t in their favor, but all the Steelers can do is win this game and let the chips fall where they may.

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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