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Steelers vs. Browns: A mismatch ‘made to order’ for starting the 2017 season

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On paper, the Pittsburgh Steelers will dominate the Cleveland Browns. As the 2017 season kicks off, there is no doubt this could happen in reality too.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Are you ready for some football? Real football, the kind that counts. I didn’t ask if you were ready for playoff caliber football, or even competitive, back and forth down to the last drive, nail biting football either. Let’s be clear here, the game that faces the Steelers this coming Sunday doesn’t fall into a category that shall we say is must-see TV.

The NFL draws up each team’s schedule. It’s a simple formula that seems to work—in theory at least.

Nobody can complain about an unfair or unbalanced schedule. If you’re a bad team, you’re guaranteed at least four games against opponents who stink—or stunk just as bad as you did in the previous season. It’s a system that’s been in place for a long time and it seems to provide balance by ensuring teams don’t play too many cupcakes.

Not that a diet of cupcakes on your schedule is so bad. I mean, having teams that aren’t so good sure helps the W’s stack up, or at least this works in theory. One might argue that playing too many bad teams won’t really give you a true measure of how good your team can be.

To hell with that! Give me the Browns every week and make my path to Minneapolis as easy as possible.

Sunday’s game in Cleveland should provide little competition for the Steelers who, to put it mildly, have dominated their division rival since it returned to the NFL in 1999.

“Dominate” might not even do justice to describing this one-sided affair. Since Cleveland returned to the league, the Steelers have won 31 games against the Browns and lost only six. Four of those wins have come at home—the last one in 2014.

Under Ben Roethlisberger, a Findlay, Ohio native, the Black-and-gold have done very well when playing in the mistake-by-the-lake. In fact (and when I heard this I was both confused and amused all at the same time), Roethlisberger has gone 20-2 vs. the team who passed on him in the 2004 NFL Draft, taking Kellen Winslow Jr instead.

That didn’t work out too well did it? (Hint: It didn’t)

Big Ben has an all-time record of 10-2 at FirstEnergy, and if he can lead the Steelers to victory on Sunday, it’ll make him the winningest quarterback in the history of that Stadium. He’s currently tied with Derek Anderson, who last started a game for the Browns in the previous decade.

I can’t possibly be making this up, right?

Sadly, I wish I was.

I don’t know who will be quarterbacking the Browns this Sunday. I don’t mind telling you this because I don’t care who they trot out and feed to the Steelers. As you can clearly see, chances are they most likely won’t win.

The Browns could send a team of morticians to Sarasota, Florida, to dig up the body of Otto Graham, resurrect him in a ceremony stolen from The Mummy films and they’d still not come within 20 points of victory.

That might be a bit dramatic, but it would still be better that what will most likely unfold by the shores of Lake Erie in 72 hours.

The point to all of this is to enjoy the game and to revel in what most likely will be an easy win. They’re not easy to come by and I (for one) will take as many as I can get.

John Phillips is the author of this article and has covered sports in Pittsburgh professionally since 1993. JP’s stories are also sponsored by Morrie’s Wigs. Morrie’s Wigs don’t come off...even under water and can be found next to the Suite Night Club, Queens, New York.