The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 29, 2013

SPORTVIEW: On paper it appears the Steelers should rout the Browns

By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor

OPINION — THE PITTSBURGH Steelers will be scoreboard watching Sunday for a myriad of occurrences that could help them make the NFL playoffs.

It’s obviously not an easy road they face since they need the Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers all to lose for them to sneak in.

Stranger things have happened -- well, maybe not!

The Dolphins are favored against the Jets and the Chargers against Kansas City. Baltimore is an underdog against Cincinnati, but don’t count the defending Super Bowl champs out.

It’s hard to count on teams like Kansas City and Cincinnati who are already locked into the playoffs. They aren’t about to risk injury to key players.

Still, the Steelers must first win before they can worry about how the other teams fare. Most people would think they should have an easy game against the Cleveland Browns.

Don’t count on it.

Even though the Browns are only 4-11, they have ability. And no team likes to lose their final game of the year, especially when some players will be cut before next year if they play poorly. And others want to play well to obtain a big contract or make their trade changes better.

The Steelers are on a roll and it’s pretty phenomenal that they have even a slim hope of the playoffs after the 0-4 start. If only Coach Mike Tomlin has stuck his foot on the field a little earlier, they might have won one or two of those games.

Ben Roethlisberger is having one of his best seasons and the running game has picked up thanks to a much improved offensive line.

Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell has been outstanding, both running and catching the football.

Antonio Brown has been terrific at wide receiver, but he’ll have his hands full against Joe Haden today if Haden is healthy.

And no Steeler can guard the NFL leading receiver Josh Gordon.

Then there’s the home field advantage. Pittsburgh has won 9 straight games at Heinz Field against the Browns.

So you would think that there is nothing that can stop the Steelers from winning today. Oh, yeah. There might be one thing — The Lynbo Curse.

While I wouldn’t mind that the Browns lose to get a higher draft pick, any win against the Steelers can make the season. Therefore I am picking Pittsburgh win this one, 30-24.

Last week my picks went 7-8 for a season mark of 126-93. Following are the rest of this week’s predictions (betting line in parentheses just for fun):

Giants (-31⁄2) over Redskins

Seattle (-101⁄2) over St. Louis

Philly (-7) over Dallas

Miami (-61⁄2) over NY Jets

Baltimore (plus 6) over Cincy

Carolina (-8) over Atlanta

New Orleans (-121⁄2) over Tampa

San Diego (-91⁄2) over Kansas City

Denver (-121⁄2) over Oakland

Indy (-111⁄2) over Jacksonville

Tennessee (-7) over Houston

Detroit (plus 3) over Minnesota

Chicago (no line) over Green Bay

San Fran (plus 3) over Arizona

Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at (unless Pittsburgh beats Cleveland, that is)!