On Monday night, NFL fans will have the treat of seeing the 7-8 Cleveland Browns (-1) and 7-7-1 Pittsburgh Steelers renew their rivalry. The tightest division race in the NFL may finally have some clarity, as Baker Mayfield takes on Ben Roethlisberger.
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Not only will it be an exciting game at Heinz Field, but Roethlisberger also noted that this contest could be his final home game for Pittsburgh. If the Steelers do not make the playoffs, it for sure could be the end of the line for the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Pittsburgh and Cleveland find themselves in the 11th and 12th spots in the AFC, respectively. In what will surely be a packed house in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Browns are either a 1- or 1.5-point favorite, depending on your selected sportsbook.
The Browns’ 2021 Season Has Become a Nightmare
Earlier this season, the Browns were looking pretty good, as their defense was dominant. Cleveland had a three-game winning streak after dropping a game at Kansas City to start the season. Then in Week 8, the Steelers went into FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland and beat the Browns in a drag-it-out 15-10 game.
Since Week 10, the Browns have scored 14 or fewer points in four contests, and their record was 1-3 in those games. Cleveland averaged just 23 points in the other two games, as it has been very difficult for Kevin Stefanski’s squad to get into the end zone.
In the aforementioned six contests, the Browns were a measly 1-5 against the spread. Additionally, Baker Mayfield threw a career-high four interceptions in the Week 16 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The four-turnover mark also was the most in any Browns game this season.
Many people expected the Browns to be vying for a playoff spot at this time. However, they were eliminated after the Chargers defeated the Broncos on January 2. This is the perfect time for the Steelers to strike while the iron is hot.
How the Steelers Can Beat the Browns
The Steelers and Browns had complete opposite beginnings to the 2021 season, but it is now Pittsburgh that is vying for playoff position. Interestingly, Pittsburgh has not been below .500 since Week 5.
A loss on Monday would bring the Steelers record back down below .500, and it does not seem like Roethlisberger is ready to ride off into the sunset yet. It is difficult to beat a divisional opponent twice in one season, but this game is the perfect situation to take the underdog Steelers.