Last Updated: 2017-12-29
The Pittsburgh Steelers still have one opportunity to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs. However, it seems they have made a decision to rest some of their starters in the Week 17 matchup vs. the Cleveland Browns. With the No. 2 seed locked up, the Steelers would need the New England Patriots to lose to the New York Jets. However, the Jets are out of the running for the postseason with a backup quarterback in the mix.
Therefore, the Steelers don’t really have much to gain barring a miracle. As a result, we may not see much of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and others if at all on Sunday afternoon. Both teams are playing in the 1 p.m. slot, so the Steelers can’t base their decision off of the Patriots’ outcome.
Currently, the Steelers are 10.5 favorites over the Browns in their home finale. Matter of fact, the line recently moved the Steelers to a 7 point favorite. The winless Browns have played tough in plenty of games, however, they have yet to get over the hump this season. Meaning, they have one final chance to avoid a winless season. Furthermore, it would be great for the Browns to earn a victory over an AFC North opponent. Remember, the Browns opened the season against the Steelers and lost by three points. In fact, they have four 3-point losses this season.
Still, the Steelers feel they have enough talent to finish the season with a (13-3) record. Is possible homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs worth playing your Pro Bowl players? Remember, they are already playing without wide receiver Antonio Brown who injured his leg in the second quarter of the intense battle with the Patriots. As of now, the Steelers are expecting Brown to play in the divisional round, but if they had to play a postseason game next week, he wouldn’t be able to go. Therefore, it’s more important for the rest of the Steelers to remain healthy this weekend.
Roethlisberger enters the final week with 4,251 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Meanwhile, Bell has rushed for 1,533 yards and 9 touchdowns on 321 carries. Brown ended his regular season after 13 games with 1,533 yards and 9 touchdowns on 101 receptions.
Quarterback Landry Jones is the probable player to get the start on Sunday. He’s attempted one pass this season. Due to James Connor’s season-ending injury, the Steelers are going to throw some new backs onto the field to carry the load if Bell is off limits. Running back Stevan Ridley carried the ball 9 times for 28 yards last week. It was his first game with the Steelers. Now, they will see if he can earn the backup role for the playoff run.
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