Off the field of drama. Bulletin board material. Renewal of a rivalry.
There was a lot of talk about the Browns and Steelers facing off against each other for two games over a three-week stretch of the NFL season. With the Browns taking down the Steelers in Cleveland on a short week coupled with the horrible incident at the end of the game, there was a lot of back-and-forth between players and fans during the three-game stretch of the 2019 season. But after this week, one team is able to move forward looking at the playoffs while the other is spent pondering the what if‘s as their hearts were broken by a team which has dominated them over the last 40+ games.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the playoff hunt. They are currently in the sixth seed and control their destiny for the rest of the season. Even if the Steelers suffer a loss along the way, they are still in decent shape to have a good shot at the playoffs.
The Cleveland Browns are two games out of the wildcard with four games remaining. With three teams ahead of them in the AFC playoff picture who are not currently in the wildcard, it is a very steep hill to climb in which they would need a lot of help for the postseason.
The Steelers have also regained one of their offensive captains from suspension and are moving forward to finish out the final quarter of the season. Their battles against the Browns are behind them and there’s no reason to dwell on anything Cleveland related.
As for the Browns, in particularly their fan base, they are left thinking about all that was for 2019 and the sour taste in their mouth from falling yet again in Pittsburgh. Add to the fact the Browns were favored in the game and facing a Steelers’ offense who was down multiple Pro Bowl players as well as a quarterback who wasn’t even their third option in Week 1, this defeat is going to stick with them a long time.
The Steelers are on to Arizona. Being favored on the road, the Steelers must remain focused in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Everything this week is about looking forward to Sunday. Players. Coaches. Fans. Everyone is on to Arizona.
While the Browns players and coaches are trying to keep focused as they prepare to host the Bengals after coming off their first win of the season, the fans are going to have a hard time letting this past week go. Between jumping in Lake Erie and declaring their disappointment in another failed season, their grim hopes of the postseason have fans reading the writing on the wall. And who’s to blame? Pittsburgh.
For Steeler fans, they will remember that Cleveland is the lone loss in the last seven games. Maybe a little. But with the four games they have left coming up, there’s no reason to focus on the past. If the Steelers do not make the playoffs, it will be due to their upcoming games.
Cleveland can’t forget Pittsburgh. It’s the game which all but knocked them out. This was supposed to be their season to show their star power and that they were factors again in the AFC North. Now the best possible scenario is second place with the most likely outcome being third.
So see you later, Cleveland. We will worry about you again next year. But you can keep thinking about the Steelers for many months to come.