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Steelers vs. Browns

2015 NFL Week 17:

Let’s Go Buffalo!

Ah, Buffalo. The Queen City. The mistake on the lake. Wings and things and no Super Bowl rings.  All Steelers fans will need an extra set of eyes this Sunday as they simultaneously watch the Steelers vs. Browns and the Jets vs. Buffalo.

I was born and raised in Buffalo. Most of me has thawed out by now, but not my love for the city. The road to a Steelers playoff birth runs directly through Buffalo. Two months ago, we were all Parisians. Sunday, we will all become Buffalonians.

If you’ve never been to Buffalo, you really should go. Some say President William McKinley, who was assassinated there in 1901, planned his own assassination so he wouldn’t have to spend another day in Buffalo. THAT’S NOT TRUE!

Tease and mock if you will, but Buffalo has a rich history that even dwarfs the Anchor Bar’s creation of the Buffalo Wing and “Norwood, wide right.” In 1881, it became the first city in the world to have electric streetlights and by 1901 it had more millionaires per capita than any city in the U.S.

For Bills fans and Rex Ryan in particular, a victory here against the Jets would be sweet.  For Steelers fans, it would be pure ecstasy.

Of course, the Steelers first need to win their road game against the Browns.

Since we’ll all be keeping watch on both games, I’m going to attempt a “game preview mash-up,” a feat never attempted before by any sports writer with a brain.

So here goes:

WHEN THE STEELERSBILLS HAVE THE BALL:

Big Tyrod Roethlisberger can be an enigma at times. His game last week vs. the RavensCowboys was an up and down affair. He ran very well, but the two interceptions were very costly. He did get into a good rhythm with Antonio Watkins, but speedster Martavis Hogan all but disappeared.

The running game was exceptional, led by Karlos DeAngelo Willams who rushed for 176 yards and one touchdown. But that wasn’t quite enough as the SteelersBills lost…. and won.

This week’s game against the BrownsJets should prove both easy and very hard. The BrownsJets have a very mediocre rushing defense and yet also have the #1 rushing defense. No matter. The run game should still be effective and Big Tyrod Roethlisberger will keep the BrownsJets defense honest.

Now the passing game.  Antonio Watkins is only 75 yards behind Atlanta’s  Julio Jones for the Receiving Yards title… and also 811 yards behind. The sledding could be rough at Ralph FirstEnergy Wilson stadium with temperatures near freezing at kickoff. Look for Big Tyrod to look to HeathClay (1/2 injured reserve) for those difficult 3rd and short situations.

WHEN THE BROWNSJETS HAVE THE BALL:

BrownsJets Quarterback Austin Fitzpatrick is having a breakout year, which is unusual for a signal caller who also has sat on the bench most of the season. The clean cut and bearded Fitzpatrick has a slew of great receivers to throw to led by the dangerous wideout/tight end Brandon Barnidge.

The running game will be hampered by the dinged-up Bilal Crowell-Powell and a stout SteelersBills rushing defense led by Marcel McClendon and Preston Shazier. Look for Austin Fitzpatrick to go to the screen passes often to loosen up the 8-man 3-4 fronts.

PERILOUS PREDICTION

Your humble prognosticator may have misfired last week (as did just about everybody) but this week allows me to make up for it. Twice!

It won’t be easy, but the SteelersBills should be able to pull out the win, a win that takes the Steelers to the promised land and the Bills to the 20th selection of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Final Scores: Steelers 27, Browns 19; Bills 20, Jets 17.

Phil Lebovits, SCB Steeler Blogger, in a van down by the frozen river

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