You want to watch this game? You must be a serious fanatic or a masochist. Or both. Even NFL.com is struggling to find reasons to watch. It says the fate of Browns head coach, Pat Shurmur and quarterback, Brandon Weeden hang in the balance. But multiple reports say Shurmur is already out the door. With a new owner and new GM, that does seem quite likely and any new head coach is probably going to want their own quarterback too, spelling the end of the short-lived Weeden era. (Incidentally it is quite a Browns thing to do - draft a rookie quarterback that is already approaching 30 with a first-round pick. Even if he did turn out to be legitimately good, he’s only going to have half a typical career. Way to plan for the future factory of sadness.)
Added to that, Weeden isn’t even playing so he won’t be able to defend his own or his coach’s future. Instead Thad Lewis, a practice squad bangaround and undrafted quarterback from football powerhouse, Duke gets the start.
Pittsburgh Steelers fans do not have much more to look forward to. Revenge for the loss to the Browns earlier in the season is a small granule of sugar on top of a heaping of bitterness. A victory will allow the 7-8 Steelers to finish a disappointing season at .500. But for both teams, a loss would not be the worst thing. The 5-10 Browns could potentially secure a top-10 pick next year if they lose. The Steelers are currently projected to earn the fourteenth pick but any number of situations in week 17 could change that.
So still interested in watching the game? Really? Okay. Well in that case keep an eye on the Pittsburgh running game versus the Browns’ defence. The Browns front seven are stout against the run and with running back, Rashard Mendenhall almost certainly gone, the remaining Steelers’ backs (Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Chris Rainey) will be fighting to prove they can be the starter in 2013. Many Steelers fans will be hoping Pittsbrugh drafts a new halfback high in the draft next year, despite the (very) occasional flash of brilliance from the current crop.
The Browns could secure their first sweep of the Steelers since 1988. In order to do so, backups such as Lewis and Montario Hardesty will have to step up big. The Steelers defence has been tough in not giving up yards but has lacked the domination it enjoyed in previous years - giving up multiple late-game leads and failing to generate as many sacks and turnovers.
The game is not being shown on TV outside of the local markets of the two teams - Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and a sliver of Kentucky. The game will be at 1 PM EST and shown on CBS for those lucky viewers. For the rest, there’s always NFL Gamepass or streaming sites. But seriously, go read a book or something. Or if you must watch football, go see if Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson break records and the 2K mark.
Where To Watch Online: Browns at Steelers