The Browns are entering Week 16 of the NFL season with a record of 5-9. Though this is better than many people believed that the Browns would be capable of getting to, it is still not what Browns fans had been hoping for before the start of the regular season.
Now, from here, the Browns are probably going to go one way or the other. I believe that the Browns are going to finish either 7-9 or 5-11.
But, not as much as they hate the Steelers.
If the Browns were to defeat the Ravens on Sunday, combined with the Steelers defeating the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, then the Steelers would become the AFC North Champions, and secure the AFC second seed in the playoffs, and the bye week that comes along with it.
If the Browns fall to the Ravens, then their Week 17 game with the Steelers becomes a must win for the Steelers.
With the Steelers and Ravens currently tied atop of the AFC North, these next two games for the Browns are going to be some of the most important AFC North games this year.
If the Browns defeat the Ravens, then when they play the Steelers, the Steelers will not be playing some of their best players.
I know, every Browns fan that reads this is going to say that they can beat the Steelers, even with their Super Stars. I am not saying that the Browns have no chance. They have already defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, and the AFC leading New England Patriots. Not to mention, defeating the Steelers in 2009.
But, I don't think you will find a Browns fan alive that does not think that the Browns will destroy the Steelers if Roethlisberger, Polamalu and Smith are not playing.
Not only that, the Browns have already taken the Ravens to the limit.
If the Browns were to hand the Ravens defeat on Sunday, and go 6-9, the Steelers will basically be using their game against the Browns as another bye week.
If the Browns don't beat the Steelers second string, Mike Holmgren will have a lot more issues to address in the off season than he is hoping to have.