Week 17 will undoubtedly be the show. Betting will be important to the Cleveland Browns as they take on their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in the final regular season game of the 2020 NFL campaign. Many expected the Browns to achieve an easy victory over the New York Jets in week 16. However, a large part of the receiving corps of the team had to be removed from the game after having had close contact with COWID-19.
The Browns fell into a deep hole against the Jets in the first half of the year, without the use of weapons. Baker Mayfield and Co. tried to get together in the second half, but didn’t have time to make a strong comeback in the final strophe. The Browns suffered a 23-16 loss that jeopardized their post-season hopes with a 10-5 record and their 17th straight victory. The weekend contest is a must.
On the other hand, it seemed that the Steelers were about to suffer another disappointing loss to the Indianapolis Colts in week 16. Still, they managed to get lucky on their side and won against their opponents 24 hours a day in the second half. A 14-point performance in the fourth quarter gave the Steelers a narrow 28-24 victory and their first divisional victory in the AFC North since 2017.
After finishing a three-game losing streak and setting a 12-3 record, the Steelers could afford to give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a week off before going into the playoffs.
Here are four predictions for week 17 from the perspective of the Ohio state team between the Browns and Steelers.
1. Baker Mayfield bounces after a poor performance against Jets.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t have the best performance against the Jets without reliable passing options. He was ineffective under the center, throwing for only 285 yards on 28 of the 53 passes made with four bags.
With an air raid that is virtually non-existent in this game, Mayfield relied on the hasty duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The first ran for 28 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown, while the last ran for 11 yards on four touches and a rush push in the end zone contributed.
Chubb and Hunt’s contributions somehow kept the game tight, but it wasn’t enough to let the Browns win. Mayfield will try to avenge the bad game from the back center and make sure his team wins an important game this time.
2. Receiver returns Brown scores a touchdown
The open group consisting of Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Naroda-Jones and HaDarel Hodge sat on the bench against the Jets because they had to be quarantined after being labelled close contacts of COVID-19. They have already tested negative for the virus and have to be removed from the team’s COVID-19 reserve list before Sunday’s match.
Week 16 could have been different for the Browns if they had been dealing with a Jets team not known for their defense. Any player, from Landry to Hodge, can score a touchdown for the Browns. With the heavy losses behind them, returning receivers will have to make up for lost time for Mayfield’s passes to eventually score in the end zone this time.
3. Miles Garrett is fired against Mason Rudolph.
The basis of the scenario of the game will be the use of Mason Rudolph instead of Roethlisberger as a starter on Sunday. This will be the first meeting between him and Browns defender Miles Garrett in a year since their loss in week 11 last season.
On the field, the former Texas A&M product has already gained momentum, leading to a game after receiving a bag in four of the last five games. Garrett has now collected 12 bags in 13 matches, making him sixth in the league. The confrontation with his former executioner Rudolph could be a great source of motivation for Garrett, especially in the knockout stages.
4. Browns win at wire to proceed toplayoffs
Brown’s head coach Kevin Stefanski has already done remarkable work this season to move the team forward. In fact, the Browns already look like a play-off team after a bye in week 9, but their recent offense against the Jets suddenly put them in a precarious position.
Because no one else is to blame for their pandemic, the Browns have only one choice: swallow the pill and move on. But this game won’t be a walk in the park for the Browns, even though their league mates have already come into the late season without a starting quarterback.
The Steelers, on the other hand, could see their performance decrease due to the presence of second players on the field, but they are still expected to make life difficult for the Browns and earn their place in the playoffs.
The Browns certainly have a tough game ahead of them to test, and it would be a shame if the team lost their playoff aspirations in the last game of the season. The team already has its back against the wall and is expected to be steadfast on Sunday, successfully ending an 18-year-old play-off drought.
For Stefanski and the Browns, it’s not just about winning a place in the post-season, it’s about letting the competition know they can do it, especially in a high-pressure situation, and finally proving that their revival was not a fluke.