In the last time slot of Wild Card Weekend, the Steelers and Browns will face off yet again as they fight for a spot in the second round of the NFL playoffs.
More COVID-19 Scares
While the Steelers prepare to play the Browns on Sunday in the first round of playoffs, Cleveland is facing more COVID-19 issues.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. This means that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the acting head coach for Sunday’s game.
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt is expected to call the offensive plays in place of Stefanski.
Two players, Pro Bowl guard Joe Bitonio and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, also tested positive on Tuesday. Tight ends coach Drew Petzing and defensive backs coach Jeff Howard were the only others to test positive as of Wednesday morning.
The Browns closed their training facility on Tuesday and Wednesday as the team and the NFL conducted contact tracing.
As long as there are no more positive tests, Sunday night‘s Browns-Steelers game will be played as scheduled. Issue arises if there are more positives… https://t.co/DMHvfEYpSA
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 6, 2021
As long as the Steelers do not have any positive COVID-19 test results, this should be an advantage for Pittsburgh heading into Sunday’s matchup.
What Are the Odds for Pittsburgh?
The Pittsburgh Steelers started their season with an undefeated 11-0 record for the first time in franchise history.
Nine out of 11 teams who started their season 11-0 have made it to the Super Bowl since 1970. However, Pittsburgh had their fair share of struggles beginning with their game against Washington.
Since then, the Steelers have lost four of their last five games. Two of these losses came to teams with losing records (Washington and Cincinnati).
Pittsburgh showed promise in their comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts.
While they lost to the Browns just last week (22-24), they still should have the upper hand in the first round of playoffs. In Week 17, Pittsburgh sat several starters, including T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey.
With these star players back in the lineup, as well as a few coming back from injury, many expect the Steelers to make it through to the second round.
Wild Card Weekend: Steelers vs. Browns
As the Steelers prepare to take on the Browns, they are slated to have a few notable players back at practice.
Linebacker Robert Spillane, who was in to replace the injured Devin Bush, suffered a knee injury in Week 13 that he has yet to return from. Tackle Matt Feiler could also return from the Reserve/Injured List after sustaining a pectoral injury in Week 14.
“The inclusion or the potential inclusion of those guys is exciting, but it also creates some challenges from a decision-making standpoint, because we feel like we have some options,” Tomlin said in his weekly press conference. “The guys who played in place of some of those guys have done good work for us. That’s a good problem to have as we prepare this week.”
The biggest thing the Steelers defense needs to be on the lookout for is Browns running back Nick Chubb.
“We needed to minimize Nick Chubb in their run game,” Tomlin said. “We gave up too many big runs. A lot he had to do with, particularly on the touchdown run where he made two defensive backs miss.”
Pittsburgh and Cleveland will kick off at 8:15 p.m. on Sunday night. The game will be aired on CBS.
Featured Image Courtesy of Steelers Depot.
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