It’s week 14 in the NFL, and the Steelers have yet to face their AFC North rivals, the Cleveland Browns. But that will change tonight.
The Steelers will face the Browns in 2 of their final 4 games of the 2011 regular season. The first of those two games will be played tonight at 8:20pm ET at Heinz Field.
Tonight’s game will be be aired on NFL Network, and the weatherman is calling for frigid temperatures. According to Weather.com, the temperature should be right at the freezing point when the game begins, but the wind chill is going to make it feel like the temperature is in the mid-20′s. Fortunately, there’s no snow in the forecast, so cold temperatures should be the only weather-related obstacle tonight.
I don’t think either team is particularly worried about the weather. After all, this is a Steelers/Browns game in December. Did anyone expect the temperature to be in the 70′s?
The Steelers and Browns are two teams that seem to be heading in opposite directions. The 9-3 Steelers are fighting for playoff position, while the 4-8 Browns are tied for the 5th worst record in the NFL, and have little to fight for except a higher draft pick.
However, despite their low standings, the Browns aren’t likely to roll over and hand the Steelers a win. We all know that pride is on the line anytime Pittsburgh and Cleveland face one another.
Following last week’s lopsided win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers seem to be clicking on all cylinders. They turned in a strong performance in all 3 phases of the game, and seem to be peaking at just the right time.
The Browns, on the other hand, seem to be heading in the opposite direction. They’ve lost 5 of their last 6 games, and don’t look like a team that can challenge the Steelers.
The Steelers have beaten the Browns in 14 of their last 15 meetings, and the Browns don’t appear to have the weapons needed to stop that trend.
Fortunately for the Browns, running back Peyton Hillis is expected to play tonight despite being listed as questionable. Hillis has missed much of the season with a hip injury. He provides yet more proof that the Madden Curse is real.
Browns quarterback Colt McCoy will also be playing at less than 100%. McCoy suffered a sprained right knee last week against the Baltimore Ravens. However, he missed only one play during that game, and has practiced all week for the Browns despite a noticeable limp.
On the Steelers’ side of the ball, LaMarr Woodley sat out most of the second half last week. But that was mostly because the Steelers had a big lead at half-time. Woodley is expected to start tonight, but don’t be surprised if the Steelers pull him if they get a big lead.
I expect to see the Steelers win in convincing fashion tonight. 28-9 sounds about right.