By Danny Cox
Well, no one will ever say for certain that a team is going to tank a season or a game just to get a better position in the NFL Draft, but anything is possible. The Cleveland Browns almost lost the No. 1 overall pick this past weekend when they finally got their first victory of the season after defeating the San Diego Chargers. With the San Francisco 49ers getting their second victory on Saturday against the Rams, the No. 1 overall selection is still in Cleveland’s hands.READ MORE: 7-Year-Old Journalist In Washington County Spreads Positive News
Still, they won’t just sit back and take a defeat to hold onto it. They have long been eliminated from playoff contention and the Pittsburgh Steelers have sealed the division, but the Browns would love to put a loss on their rival’s record in 2016.
Cleveland Browns Season Record: 1-14
Loss after loss this season led to many believing the Browns would end up winless in 2016, but a shocking win over the San Diego Chargers proved that wasn’t meant to be. Now, they are sitting at 1-14 after a 14-game losing streak which included a 24-9 loss to the Steelers earlier this season. If the Browns can put a blemish on the Steelers’ record, they’re going to be more than happy to finish out a disappointing season in that fashion.
Browns On Offense
No one really knows when the Browns will have a franchise quarterback, as they have had six different players under center this season. Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion on Saturday against the Chargers and it isn’t yet known if he will be ready to play in the final game of the season. If not, it will likely be Cody Kessler back under center.
If Pittsburgh is going to look to rattle whichever player will be quarterback, they simply need to show a pass rush and execute it throughout the day. Against the Chargers, the Browns had less than 150 total passing yards and ended up giving up nine sacks, which is a number that many teams don’t take sometimes in three or four games combined.
Cleveland’s rushing game isn’t much to worry about either, but it all comes down to whoever is playing quarterback and how to prepare for him.READ MORE: Tom Hanks Returning To Pittsburgh For 'A Man Called Ove' Film Adaptation
Browns On Defense
Defensively, the Browns give up a lot of points, and they have throughout the entire season. A team scoring more than 20 or even 30 points against Cleveland is not uncommon, and the Steelers should be able to run up the scoreboard as they please.
Cleveland does not cause a lot of turnovers; they have only 12 on the entire season (nine interceptions and three recovered fumbles). Their pass rush is not that impressive, with Emmanuel Ogbah leading the team with just 5.5 sacks and no other player with more than three (Cam Johnson). The Browns have a lot of problems on both offense and defense, and the Steelers can find holes in the running and passing games to get on the board early and often.
Browns Players To Watch: TE Gary Barnidge and DB Jamar Taylor
While wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. has been one of the lone bright spots for the Browns this season, tight end Gary Barnidge is right behind him. He is the second leading receiver on the team in yards with 572 and he’s third in receptions with 50. Barnidge doesn’t catch a lot of touchdowns (1), but he’s a big body that deserves attention at all times. The TE sometimes draws double coverage to open receivers more often.
Jamar Taylor has a bright future ahead of him and the Browns should look at picking up more players of his caliber to improve their defense. Of the nine interceptions the Browns have on the season, Taylor is tied with Joe Haden for the team lead with three picks, and he leads the Browns with 12 passes defended. He’s a ballhawk who is always all over the field and certainly knows how to be at the right place at the right time. Big Ben truly needs to know where Taylor is and avoid him at all costs.
Depending on how much the Steelers want to play their starters and risk injury, this game could go either way. If coach Mike Tomlin leaves his starters in the game, Pittsburgh should really have no trouble with the Browns; after all, they didn’t earlier this season. It all really depends on who is in the game and how long they end up playing in the final week of the season.MORE NEWS: Families Who Lost Their Homes In Majestic Hills Landslide Could Finally Get A Payout
Pittsburgh will want to get a victory against the Browns, but they’re focused on the playoffs now and will not want to jeopardize their postseason run.