By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
EVEN THOUGH the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns meet today, there’s definitely something missing. One thing is the interest of the fans.
I’ve actually run into Steelers fans who said they hoped the Browns would win. Of course, in a way I’m rooting for the Steelers. Hey, despite the rivalry, getting a higher draft pick can sometimes be very crucial to future success. And both teams need help.
Steeler fans of course are reeling from the collapse at the end of the season. In fact, there were a lot of tickets available for the game that normally would be almost impossible to get.
It will be interesting to see who plays. Cleveland’s top two quarterbacks — Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy — are both injured, so the starter will be Thad Lewis (who?). OK, I’m not worried a bit. Lewis played for Duke and we all know the powerful football teams they produce.
Plus rookie running back Trent Richardson is also out with an injury suffered late in last Sunday’s loss to Denver when he should have been out of the game.
So how many top Steelers will play? Maybe if they start Charlie Batch, the last quarterback to get a victory 4 weeks ago, they’ll have a chance. OK, just kidding. At least Ben Roethlisberger shouldered the blame for their last loss and didn’t try to blame offensive coordinator Todd Haley again.
While today’s game is pretty much meaningless, in a way it will determine what players or coaches may be returning next season. For Browns coach Pat Shurmur, it doesn’t matter. He’s gone. In fact, new owners may want to clean house at the top.
But several marginal players on both rosters will be showing what they can do if they hope to be back next year. Even the Steelers should see some shake-ups. Nothing brings about change in the Steel City like not making the playoffs.
And with the turmoil with some of the players like Rashard Mendenhall, you can bet the Rooneys will want to cut them loose if they can. Hey, did Mike Wallace play this year?
Will all the injuries to the Browns, this should be an easy win for Pittsburgh, especially at home. But I don’t think it will be. The Steelers have played down to their competition all season and with nothing really to play for, it will be a close game.
Still, I see Pittsburgh coming out on top, 13-9.
Last week my picks went 11-4 for a season mark of 133-87. Following are the rest of this week’s predictions (betting line in parentheses just for fun):
Denver (-16) over Kansas City
New Orleans (--4) over Carolina
Jacksonville (plus 51⁄2) over Tenn.
Dallas (plus 31⁄2) over Washington
Houston (-61⁄2) over Indy
New England (-11) over Miami
Green Bay (-3) over Minnesota
San Fran (-15) over Arizona
Seattle (-10) over St. Louis
Baltimore (plus 3) over Cincy
NY Giants (-91⁄2) over Philly
Chicago (-3) over Detroit
NY Jets (plus 3) over Buffalo
Atlanta (no line) over Tampa
San Diego (no line) over Oakland
Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.