The (9-6) Pittsburgh Steelers will play the (3-12) Cleveland Browns Sunday on the road to close out their 2015 regular season and here are the six biggest storylines currently surrounding the Week 17 game.
Where’s Johnny? – The Browns will be without quarterback Johnny Manziel on Sunday as he will miss the season finale with a concussion. With Manziel ruled out, Austin Davis will get the start in his place. Last Sunday, the Steelers allowed Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Ryan Mallett to throw for a career-high 274 yards. In case your curious, Davis’ career high passing yards in a game entering Sunday is 375.
Hello, Cleveland! – Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 19-2 against the Browns during his career with both losses coming in Cleveland. Roethlisberger is coming off of a poor game last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens that included him throwing two interceptions and only completing two deep pass attempts against a secondary that chose to play a lot of two-deep coverages.
DeAngelo 1k – Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams enters Sundays game against the Browns needing 101 rushing yards to hit 1,000 for the season. During his long career, Williams has only rushed for 1,000 yards or more in a season just twice with the last time being in 2009 with the Carolina Panthers. While the win Sunday is the most important thing for the Steelers, it would be nice to see Williams hit 1,000 rushing yards and there’s a good chance he’ll do that against a Browns defense that is the worst in the league in yards allowed in a game on the ground.
AB Watch – Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown only needs 7 catches and 52 yards receiving on Sunday in order to set new career-highs in both statistical categories. He also enters Sunday trailing Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones for the lead-league in receptions by 4 and yards by 75.
Scoreboard Watching – Make no mistake, several Steelers players and coaches will be peeking at the scoreboard Sunday during the game in order to see how things are going between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. If the Jets are winning, expect the Browns staff to flash that score quite a bit in an effort to demotivate the Steelers. The Steelers need the Jets to lose to the Bills in order for them to make the playoffs. That of course assumes they beat the Browns on Sunday.
The End For Several Steelers? – If things don’t go perfect for the Steelers on Sunday they will miss the playoffs. That could mean that Sunday might just be the final game played in the black and gold for linebacker James Harrison and safety Will Allen, just to name a few. While Harrison is under contract next season, the Steelers might decide it’s finally time to move on. As for Allen, he’s not currently under contract for next season. Additionally, there’s no guarantee that veterans Steve McLendon, Ramon Foster and William Gay will be back in 2016 as all three are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents during the offseason.