Cleveland Browns: Ben Roethlisberger already eyeing Week 1 matchup

The Cleveland Browns will open the 2017 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Browns think they’ll be overlooked by their bully rivals, they’re wrong.

The Cleveland Browns haven’t really been much of a rival for the Pittsburgh Steelers in recent years. Cleveland last beat the Steelers in 2014 and has just two wins against Pittsburgh since 2010. Armed with new weapons like Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, Kevin Zeitler and Kenny Britt, the Browns hope to reinvigorate what has become a rather one-sided affair.

This year’s Browns team should be a lot better than last year’s, and it might even be able to pull off an upset win over the Steelers if they can catch Pittsburgh by surprise. Don’t laugh, that 31-10 win back in 2014 was pretty dominant and a performance the Steelers simply didn’t see coming.

If the Browns are hoping to catch the Steelers napping in Week 1, however, they’re likely to be disappointed.

Pittsburgh quarterback and notorious Browns-beater Ben Roethlisberger recently made it very clear that his team is focused on Cleveland in Week 1, saying this via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“I’m thinking about Cleveland. That’s our first game. You can’t think about last year, you can’t think about Week 12, 13, 14, 15, playoffs. You’ve got to think about Week 1, and Week 1 is at Cleveland. That’s a division rivalry.”

Roethlisberger has a bit of personal history with the Browns, of course. Cleveland passed on the Lima, OH native in the 2004 draft, and Roethlisberger has never forgotten. However, he isn’t the only one motivated to battle the Browns on opening day.

Browns rookie and No. 1 pick Myles Garrett wasted no time trying to add energy to the rivalry. During the draft process, he told ESPN’s Randy Moss that Roethlisberger was someone he was wanting to sack upon his arrival in the NFL.

Several Steelers, including right tackle Marcus Gilbert, took notice:

While Garrett didn’t actually seem to be calling Roethlisberger out so much as pointing out a personal challenge — and perhaps showing off his knowledge of Cleveland’s schedule—he refused to back off his comments, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com:

“That was kind of blown up, but [I] stand by [it],” he said on the first day of rookie minicamp. “We’re looking to get after him. Why should I be afraid of saying those kinds of things?”

Garrett shouldn’t be afraid to say such things and he shouldn’t be afraid of a guy like Roethlisberger not getting it. The Pittsburgh quarterback is eager to get after the Browns too.

This article originally appeared on