The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Sunday’s game will be a noticeably chippy one between the Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.
Explanation: Not that it needs much explanation, but this is the first game between the Steelers and the Browns since Myles Garrett assaulted Mason Rudolph on national tv. Players on both sides of the skirmish have since then said that they expect emotions to run high. The question is whether that will translate physically on the field.
Considering the fact that the Browns are one of the most undisciplined teams in the entire league, it’s hard to imagine the tensions not coming up to bubble to the surface at some point during the game. While they haven’t necessarily been brawling in the stands all year, they’re way up there in penalties and no team has had more players ejected this season than they have.
Garrett won’t be in the game, and neither will be Maurkice Pouncey, the two most violent players in the confrontation, but Larry Ogunjobi is returning, and you can bet some Steelers will have a problem with what he did. I’m sure they heard what Sheldon Richardson had to say as well.
The Browns also feel as though they were wronged by the league by the way it was all handled, especially with Garrett receiving an indefinite suspension. Multiple players called for Rudolph to be fined. If either side starts to get an advantage by the officiating, that could blow up for sure.
The fact that none of Garrett, Pouncey, nor Rudolph will be on the field is going to soften so much of any potential emotional response that might otherwise have been present. The Browns understand what David DeCastro was doing, and he typically doesn’t have much of a temper
Aside from that, the stakes are simply too damn high. Essentially, the season is on the line for both teams. If the Browns lose, it’s over. They’ll fall to 5-7, two games back behind Pittsburgh. If the Steelers lose, the Browns own the tiebreaker, and with instability at quarterback, are unlikely to recover, especially with the Ravens looming at the end of the year.