COMMENTARY | One man's trash is one man's treasure.
While a 4-6 record after 10 games isn't likely what fans of the perennially contending Pittsburgh Steelers were expecting in 2013, that same record -- while not a source of pride for fans of the Cleveland Browns -- is at least a sign that the Browns are improving under first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski. Pittsburgh is clearly a franchise on the decline at the moment, while the Browns are building a decent foundation as they look to finally turn their fortunes around in the future.
A win over Pittsburgh at home in Week 12 would establish the Browns as the alpha male in this decades-old rivalry once again, and pretty much kill any chances the Steelers have of making the playoffs in 2013. Even though Pittsburgh has gone 4-2 since starting the season 0-4, the Steelers are far from a fearsome opponent for a Browns team that has faced its fair share of adversity this year.
Pittsburgh is just 1-4 on the road this season, and the Steelers have one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. The Steelers are averaging only 76.5 yards per game on the ground in 2013, which is 30th in the NFL. If that wasn't bas enough, Pittsburgh's offensive line has allowed the third-most sacks in the NFL this year, with 37. Needless to say, Cleveland's defensive front could have a field day on November 24.
Pittsburgh's defense is average at best, and has struggled to create turnovers in 2013. Through 10 games, the Steelers have forced just 10 turnovers. That's great news for a Browns squad still reeling from a 41-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 that was basically handed to Cincinnati because of Cleveland's inability to hang on to the football that day.
Statistics aside, there's no reason for the Browns to fear the Steelers anymore. After all, Cleveland did defeat the Steelers the last time the two teams met at FirstEnergy Stadium. In one of the more memorable Cleveland victories in recent years, the Browns forced eight Steeler turnovers as they pulled out a 20-14 win on November 25, 2012. Cleveland's hopes of sweeping Pittsburgh in 2012 were sabotaged by a spate of late-season injuries, but the Browns still put up a valiant effort in a 24-10 loss to the Steelers on December 30.
No matter what, Cleveland's matchup with Pittsburgh is going to be pivotal on many levels. The playoff hopes of both teams are reliant on a victory in Week 12, with the loser likely eliminated from the race. But now, more than ever, the pride of these two teams is on the line, as the Steelers struggle to maintain their dominance over the Browns.
Dominance that may already have been lost.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for over 25 years.
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