This Sunday’s Week 17 matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers has some history tied to it already:
In the early odds, the Browns have opened as a seven-point favorite.
The Week 17 Sunday game between the Steelers and Browns could mark the first time since 1989 that Cleveland has been a favorite of seven or more points since Oct 15, 1989. The Browns were 10-point favorites over the Steelers in that game in Cleveland. The #Steelers won 17-7.
— Steelers Depot 🎄 (@Steelersdepot) December 29, 2020
The 1989 season marks the last time the Browns won their division.
Under Bud Carson, the 1989 Browns went 9-6-1.
They opened the season with a 51-0 victory over the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
However, the Browns were just a two-point favorite on the road for that contest.
The Browns proceeded to be a 7.5-point favorite against the New York Jets the following week, and Cleveland won that game.
Then, in Week 6, Cleveland hosted the Steelers.
The Browns were a 10-point favorite for that contest.
That spread marked the highest point spread for Cleveland that season.
Unfortunately, with the 17-7 loss to the Steelers that week, the Browns fell to 3-3 through six games.
However, Bernie Kosar led Cleveland to a Divisional Round playoff victory later that season.
The 34-30 win over the Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Municipal Stadium was the Browns’ most recent Divisional Round win.
Cleveland will be searching for another one of those wins this season as well.
The Steelers Resting Their Starters May Lead to a Browns Playoff Berth
Now that we have taken a look down memory lane, let us turn our sights to the 2020 Browns.
The Browns are favored by such a large number in Week 17 because the Steelers clinched the AFC North with their Week 16 win.
The assumption is that the Steelers will be resting some of their starters since they have secured the division.
Fortunately, a Browns victory against the Steelers’ backups is all that is needed for a Cleveland playoff berth:
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) December 28, 2020
The Browns already have their first double-digit win season since 2007.
They are in search of their first playoff berth since 2002.
However, the most recent time that the Browns won at least 10 games and made the postseason was 1994.
That season was coincidentally the last one in which the Browns won a playoff game.
Kevin Stefanski and company are in search of the franchise’s first postseason win since January 1, 1995.
How Do the Browns Fare Against This Year’s Steelers?
In order for the Browns to have another chance at a playoff win, they will have to take care of the Steelers in Week 17.
The 1:00 pm eastern time kickoff will hopefully include Wyatt Teller starting on the offensive line.
There is a very important reason for this:
The key to the Browns rushing attack is Wyatt Teller.
With: 183 rush yards per game.
Without: 88 rush yards per game.
With Wyatt Teller the Browns have the #1 rushing offense in the NFL.
That's a recipe to beat anyone in the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/L7ZGSVLDle
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) December 29, 2020
In addition to the Browns getting their wide receivers back for Week 17, Teller will hopefully be back from his ankle injury.
After he missed two weeks, the Browns may have for his 11th game this season.
The Browns have a very strong winning percentage in games he has played in 2020.
This season, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have combined for the Browns to run for the fourth-most yards in the league.
If the Browns had gotten some more luck with their health this season, their rushing numbers could have been even better.
The hope is that Baker Mayfield does not have to attempt 53 passes in Week 17.
A balanced offensive attack against Pittsburgh’s second-stringers should be a recipe for success for the Browns.
This is a very important bounce-back game for a Cleveland team that fell to the Steelers, 38-7, earlier this season.
Mayfield and Stefanski will be under a lot of pressure in this contest.
If they have a strong showing, Browns fans will be excited to see their opponent in the first round of the upcoming playoffs.