Jordan DeFigio, @fidgenewton
For the third and final time this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Cleveland Browns. But this time, it means a little more.
We’ve entered the 2020 playoffs.
And the Browns are seriously depleted, running on fumes.
Meaning the Steelers will have their work cut out for them.
Kickoff is set for 8:15pm ET on Sunday, January 10th and will be broadcast on NBC. Here’s what we have to look forward to.
MATCHUPS AT A GLANCE
Covid continues to run rampant throughout the Browns’ organization; not only will they be playing without Denzel Ward, Kevin Johnson, Joel Bitonio, and KhaDarel Hodge, but they will be without head coach, Kevin Stefanski.
The Browns have finally made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and their head coach won’t even be there. Special teams coach Mike Priefer will be calling the shots, and all signs point to the Steelers being heavy favorites to win.
The Browns defeated the Steelers just six days ago. But the team they faced was led by Mason Rudolph and was missing key pieces on the defensive side of the ball as well. Not to mention they only beat a team mostly made up of Steelers’ scrubs by just two points – with a final score of 24-22. The Browns emerged with a playoff berth – and a seriously inflated level of confidence. This bodes well for the Steelers, who will not only be getting Eric Ebron, Robert Spillane, Chris Boswell, Matt Feiler (who’s getting the start over Kevin Dotson…not sure I like that) back from injury and the Covid/Reserve list, but Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, T.J. Watt, and Cam Heyward will all be returning from the lineup after using the final week of the regular season to recover after a long, wild season.
This game is going to provide us with some seriously lopsided matchups…
…which makes me incredibly nervous. This Steelers team is loaded with talent, and a lot of that talent will be well-rested. They should win. They should absolutely run over the Browns.
But like I’ve said over and over again this season, when the Steelers should win, they really struggle to win. I don’t have any concrete predictions. I believe the Steelers CAN beat the Browns tomorrow night. Whether or not they will is another story altogether.
And if they don’t beat these Browns, well –
they may never make it to the Super Bowl ever again.
This may be Baker Mayfield‘s first playoff game, but it very well could be Roethlisberger’s last. He’s made it clear he wants to return next season to fulfill his contract, but a lot can happen over the spring and summer. And even if he does come back, there’s no guarantee the Steelers will lock down a playoff spot in 2021. If they want to win it all, they need to play like this could be the last run of his career – and make it count.
What are your predictions for the game? Let us know in the comments below.