This year, though, Pittsburgh is in the same boat.
The AFC North rivals each went through hot streaks this season. But those streaks weren’t long enough to earn them a playoff berth.
Here’s everything you need to know about this Week 17 matchup.
Where: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa.
When: Sunday, Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS, DIRECTV: 714, NFL Redzone or online at Game Rewind
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 91 or online at Audio Pass
Betting Line: No line, according to Bovada
What’s At Stake?
Absolutely nothing. And according to Weather.com (trust at your own risk), it’s supposed to snow in Pittsburgh too.
Suffering in the snow for nothing is no fun. Well, for everyone except James Harrison.
I'm tired of the rain, I'm ready for some snow!— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) December 20, 2012
Browns Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 25)
Brandon Weeden (shoulder), QB, Questionable
Mohamed Massaquoi (knee), WR, Injured Reserve
Trent Richardson (ankle), RB, Questionable
Jordan Cameron (head), TE, Questionable
Steelers Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 25)
Ike Taylor (ankle), CB, Questionable
Baron Batch (arm), RB, Out
Mike Wallace (hip), WR, Questionable
Heath Miller (knee), TE, Out
Fantasy Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em and Sleeper
Start: Cleveland Defense
The last time that the Browns played the Steelers, Cleveland forced eight turnovers.
Ben Roethlisberger has turned the football over five times in the past three games, so he is certainly prone to hand the Browns a few more.
Sit: Trent Richardson
Pittsburgh boasts the No. 2 run defense in the NFL.
Richardson won’t find much daylight against Dick Lebeau’s crew.
Sleeper: Josh Gordon
While the Steelers also field the No. 1 pass defense in the league, their secondary has been susceptible in the past. And with Ike Taylor questionable and Keenan Lewis coming off an hip injury, the explosive Gordon could break loose.
What They’re Saying
According to Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, after the Browns fell to the Denver Broncos last week, a frustrated Josh Cribbs reacted to some unsupportive fans by tweeting, “I see all the negativity on Twitter after I gave my life to this (expletive). So all who are against me (expletive) y’all! I’m still gonna do me!”
#browns Shurmur wouldn't say if he fine Cribbs for the profane tweet. Said team issue.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) December 24, 2012
#Steelers Tomlin: Injuries will drive personnel moves this week. Does not think it's meaningless game. Chance to get sour taste out— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) December 24, 2012
Browns Player to Watch: Brandon Weeden
Weeden has had an up-and-down yet solid rookie season. It’d be a huge step in his progression for him to end the campaign on a high note against a defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL in yards surrendered.
After all, he’ll be 30 years old next year, so a quick progression is a necessity.
Steelers Player to Watch: Ben Roethlisberger
Rust isn’t an excuse anymore. He needs to earn Pittsburgh’s trust back or this offseason is going to be a long one.
Key Matchup: Joe Thomas vs. James Harrison
Thomas is one of the league’s best blindside protectors, perhaps the best. Harrison is one of the league’s best pass-rushers, or at least he used to be.
Thomas’ ability to keep Harrison off of Weeden will play a major role in determining whether the Browns can move the football at all on Sunday.
On the Hot Seat: No One
Mike Tomlin is a Super Bowl champion. The Rooney family wouldn’t even entertain the thought of putting him on the hot seat, let alone firing him.
And Pat Shurmur overachieved with this Browns team this season so his job is secure.
Pittsburgh has too much tradition, pride and talent to lose four straight and back-to-back home games to close out a season. It will win in what is sure to be a battle.
Pittsburgh by 3
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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