The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 2, 2012

SPORTVIEW: Browns can build off win over Steelers for strong future

By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor

OPINION — IT’S A great time to be a Cleveland Browns fan. The Browns defeated their long-time rival Pittsburgh, but more importantly the team shows potential of future greatness.

Admittedly, the Browns recorded the win against the third-string quarterback of the Steelers, but as at least one Browns’ fan said: The Browns have been starting third-string quarterbacks for years.

The jury is still out on Browns starter Brandon Weeden, but he shows potential. And he may be the perfect guy to lead the very young Browns team — youngest overall roster in the NFL — into the future.

However, the offense needs to catch up with the defense. When healthy, that Browns defense is about as good as any in the league. With a couple of better defensive backs, the team could really make some noise the next few years.

The Steelers helped the Browns with turnovers, but the defense had a lot to do with that. They were pounding Pittsburgh backs. Still, I don’t ever remember seeing a game where four different running backs lost fumbles like the Steelers did. Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t know who to put in the game.

And when Joe Haden is in the lineup, the defensive back can shut down the best receiver of pretty much every team in the NFL.

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch was asked to do more than he was capable of doing because of the ineptness of the running backs. And now he must go up against the Baltimore Ravens with a line that is greatly hampered by injuries.

Tackle Mike Adams, a Farrell native, probably will be out for about four weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered against the Browns.

Let’s face it, the Steelers are old as far as football years go. That’s why so many veterans have been sidelined at times by injuries. A body can only withstand the NFL beatings for so long.

And there are more beatings to come today against the Ravens. With Batch behind a patched up offensive line, the Steelers have no hope. They are bad on the road to start with (1-4) and it won’t get better at Poe’s Place as the Ravens roll, 30-9.

Meanwhile, Cleveland travels to Oakland. While the Browns have shown they can play well at home, they need to do better on the road. And Oakland should be just the place to show if they are truly making progress.

I see the Browns winning on the West Coast, 24-13.

Last week, my predictions took a worse beating than Steelers running backs as I fumbled my way to 5-7 for a season mark of 96-64. Following are the rest of this week’s picks (betting line in parentheses just for fun):

Detroit (-41⁄2) over Indy

Denver (-61⁄2) over Tampa

Chicago (-4) over Seattle

Green Bay (-9) over Minnesota

St. Louis (plus 71⁄2) over San Fran

New England (-71⁄2) over Miami

Houston (-41⁄2) over Tennessee

Arizona (plus 41⁄2) over NY Jets

Kansas City (plus 1) over Carolina

Dallas (-10) over Philly

Buffalo (-6) over Jacksonville

San Diego (plus 1) over Cincy

Giants (even) over Washington