Highlights, recap and key players from the New Year’s Day AFC North clash between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Week 17.
Pride and a chance to upset your fiercest enemy will motivate both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns in Week 17. The two AFC North rivals will meet at Heinz Field on New Year’s Day will little tangible reward on the line.
Pittsburgh has already clinched the North and can’t alter its playoff fate. Meanwhile, the Browns officially escaped the ignominy of an 0-16 season by beating the San Diego Chargers last week.
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For the Steelers, this game is a chance to rest key stars ahead of the postseason. Head coach Mike Tomlin appears ready to do just that.
Tomlin is planning to sit a quartet of linchpins for his offense, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Not only will Roethlisberger not play, but neither will Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Maurkice Pouncey.”
It will mean chances for some useful understudy players to prove their worth. Of course, going against a weakened Steelers team will also increase the Browns’ confidence of producing an upset.
Yet those chances will depend on who is under center. It’s likely to be Robert Griffin III after he recovered from the concussion he sustained during the win over the Chargers.
RG3 is in line for a fourth start in a row, per Patrick Maks of the Browns’ official site. Whether he’s healthy or not, the Griff’ is likely to struggle against an improving Steelers defense.
Highlights will be added and updated as and when they happen.
1. Sean Davis
If you had to pinpoint the most improved player on the Steelers’ roster, safety Sean Davis would be a good bet. The rookie defensive back has worked hard to make himself an ever-present in the Pittsburgh secondary.
Writing for the Miami Herald, Will Graves detailed how heavy study has improved Davis. Specifically, he’s learned well from veteran Mike Mitchell and position coach Carnell Lake.
Davis has the smarts and instincts to fool Griffin in coverage.
2. DeAngelo Williams
It’s likely to be experienced bruiser DeAngelo Williams who carries the load on the ground in Bell’s absence. Williams has the power, quick feet and vision to punish the NFL‘s 31st-ranked run defense.
3. Christian Kirksey
Almost without anybody noticing, Christian Kirksey has become perhaps the most capable member of Cleveland’s front seven. He’s a savvy and versatile linebacker who can make plays in every phase of the game.