Hey, the Steelers clinched the AFC North with a nice comeback win over the Colts. Now, it appears they’re intending to rest key players before the playoffs.
After falling behind 24-7 on Sunday, the Steelers rallied with a little over a quarter left in the game to complete the comeback against the Colts. For the game, the Steelers rushed for just 22 yards on 14 carries.
Odds are, if you see that little tidbit in the box score of a game, you can assume it’s a rough loss. However, this is the Steelers’ identity in 2020. Like the Patriots of years past, the Steelers have circumvented the necessity of having a good offensive line by getting the ball out quickly.
This weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 9.5 underdogs against the Cleveland Browns, according to the DraftKings PA Online Sportsbook. Can the Steelers win with the 9.5 points?
The Steelers appeared to fall into the same rut early in Sunday’s game. As the game wore on in the third quarter, the Steelers’ defense clamped down, and the offense started to find a little bit of rhythm.
Once the Steelers flipped momentum, the defense was able to force a few turnovers from long downs and distances. In retrospect, it was relieving to see the Steelers could throw a few wrinkles into their play calling, as well as use personnel adjustments over schematic adjustments.
Steelers vs Browns Preview
Since the Steelers already locked up the division, they feel it’s more important to rest some of their banged-up players prior to the playoffs. Mike Tomlin has already announced Ben Roethlisberger, as well as other starters, will be out for the season finale.
It’s a story of give and take here, as resting the players will better prepare the Steelers for the postseason. However, it will essentially gift a playoff spot to the Browns. It’s probably the right move to let the Browns have a pass while resting up your players, but the competitive side of the Steelers and their fans probably want to go a different route in this one.
For the game, the Steelers are 10-point underdogs. Normally, when a team’s starting quarterback is out, the line moves five or six points. Given what we’ve seen from Mason Rudolph last season, a ten-point line is warranted.
It’s likely we won’t see much from Dionte Johnson, James Conner, Juju, and TJ Watt. From a preparation perspective, the Steelers will simply be utilizing a second-team approach. I don’t expect the same offensive scheming from the Steelers. With such little faith in Mason Rudolph, I’m anticipating a much more balanced attack utilizing play-action.
Week 17 prediction
The Steelers will likely be moving off their quick-pass offense and more towards a balanced offense, utilizing play-action. I expect we will see a lot more of Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland, as the Steelers seek to just go through the motions in this one.
With the linebacking corps depleted and starters resting, I’m anticipating a heavy rushing gameplan from the Browns. We should see a pretty conservative game plan from both sides. Alas, I don’t think the Steelers have the personnel in this game to slow down the Browns.