Cleveland vs Pittsburgh, nothing in the NFL sounds more violent, passionate and more appropriate. Two Rust Belt blue-collar, working-class cities that simply hate each other.
Hate is a polite word whenever the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns play, and another dark chapter was added back in Week 6 when Steelers LB, James Harrison would lead with his helmet knocking Browns wide receiver, Joshua Cribbs out of the game with a concussion.
Harrison would also lead with helmet again and give Browns wide receiver, Mohamed Massaqoui a concussion in the following play, Pittsburgh would go on to win 28-10, spoiling Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback, Colt McCoy's one touchdown, 281 yard NFL debut.
For The 5-10 Cleveland Browns and their fans, Sunday has come down to this; ruining Pittsburgh's playoff seeding and improving upon their win total from one year ago.
For Pittsburgh, they hope to win up in Cleveland and along with a loss by bitter rival, Baltimore to Cincinnati at home would give the 11-4 Pittsburgh Steelers a much-needed bye for themselves.
Without question, Pittsburgh needs and wants this game for a variety of reason, but the main reason is to give starters such as strong safety, Troy Polamalu a chance to heal up and come back in time for the playoffs.
Pittsburgh would also love to exact some revenge on Cleveland for knocking them out of the playoffs last year as the Browns would sack Pittsburgh Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger, eight times in a 13-6 win that would all but dash Pittsburgh's playoff hopes last year.
While some will argue that the reason why Pittsburgh lost to Cleveland was mainly due to the absence of Polamalu, Cleveland played with literally four players they signed as street agents and played with mostly practice squad guys.
That was 2009 and this is now 2011 and the Browns are playing for nothing more than pride and possibly Eric Mangini's job as the Browns who were once the talk of the NFL after upsetting NFL heavyweights, New England and New Orleans in back-to-back weeks has since gone 2-5 in their last seven games including losses to NFL doormats, Buffalo and Cincinnati have really cast doubt about Mangini's future in Cleveland.
For Pittsburgh, locking up the #2 seed in the AFC playoffs not only means a bye and getting Polamalu back, but will also give Pittsburgh time to heal and get all of it's other players healthy in time for a expected deep run in the playoffs and another shot and Steelers nemesis, Tom Brady in Foxborough with a trip to the Super Bowl most likely at stake.
Enjoy the game and check back in for live updates. Happy New Year.