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Week 17 Versus The Cleveland Browns Shouldn’t Be Meaningless To Steelers’ Fans

The 2012 NFL season is obviously going to remembered as nothing more than a disappointment by Steelers’ fans. The Pittsburgh Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention with last week’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and will have their first non-winning season since 2006. This season has been incredibly frustrating to watch considering all of the talent on this team and all of the hype that surrounded the hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Haley in the offseason.
The Steelers should be wrapping up another great season with at least 10-12 wins instead of going into week 17 versus the Cleveland Browns with nothing to play for.

Well, the fact of the situation the Steelers sit at 7-8 and have already lost to the Browns this season, albeit without Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are 0-3 since Ben has come back from his shoulder/rib injury including an embarrassing home loss to the San Diego Chargers in his first game back. Although Ben has been inconsistent in his return, the entire team has had its ups and downs all the way through to the coaching.

Even though the Steelers are going to be missing players like Mike Wallace, Heath Miller and Ike Taylor, as well as the Browns starting their third string QB Thaddeus Lewis, I am still looking forward to watching this game. I love watching the Steelers and after the game the only thing there will be to look ahead to will be the draft.

In this game versus the Browns it will be interesting to see if the Steelers can finally have a dominant victory. That isn’t to say that the Browns are a terrible team however, the Steelers should beat them soundly even with QB Brandon Weeden and RB Trent Richardson. The Steelers always play down to their competition and with nothing but pride to play for; I will be looking to see if players become disinterested. Specifically, I will be looking to see if Ben Roethlisberger can bounce back from a rough stretch of games where he hasn’t been able to make the clutch play. Although the Browns defense isn’t the worst in the league, Ben should complete a high percentage in this game.

The other side of that is whether or not guys like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, who have been inconsistent all season, will actually hold on to the ball. Let’s see if David DeCastro can bounce back from a less than stellar performance against the Bengals last week and continue to develop into the player we all thought he would be the day he was drafted. For that matter will the entire offensive line finally blow up a defense instead of continuously being blown up? David Paulson has the opportunity to at least show he has the potential to be a solid number two TE for the future behind Heath Miller. And will any running back stand up against the Browns’ 19th ranked rush defense?

On defense there is a good shot that we could be looking at the future of the Steelers secondary with Keenan Lewis on one side and Cortez Allen on the other. Then again will Lewis could decide to leave in free agency and leave Allen as the starter opposite Ike Taylor. Allen is coming off of his best performance by far as a pro and it will be interesting to see how he responds against a less than potent Browns’ receiving corp. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison should be in Thaddeus Lewis’ face all game and Troy Polamalu should be able to fly around like he used to.

These are things that should have happened all through the season instead of hoping for one last hurrah before the end of the season but that is the situation we’re left with. Believe me; I am in no way condoning or satisfied with the type of season that the Steelers just produced. That doesn’t mean you just stop caring or are any less of a fan. I fully expect the Steelers to reload and come back next season ready for a Super Bowl run. The 2013 Steelers cannot exist until the 2012 season has ended and I’ll be watching to see if they can at least end on a positive note.

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