The Pittsburgh Steelers have never been more vulnerable to the Cleveland Browns. Though they feature a top-ranked defense, the Steelers will be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his backup, Byron Leftwich. Instead, the Browns will see third-stringer Charlie Batch on the field, along with the rest of the banged-up Steelers offense.
The Steelers are ripe for an upset, and the Browns are playing at home. At 2-8, there has been plenty of disappointment for the Browns this season, but a loss like this would be especially demoralizing, the kind of defeat that makes hope for the future harder to muster up.
But a win on this day holds plenty of significance. New owner Jimmy Haslam wants this victory bad, as do the players. The fans want it more than usual because it’s the Steelers and the Browns have every opportunity to embarrass them. Head coach Pat Shurmur wants it because a win – with a chance for two against the Steelers – might just save his job.
With so much on the line, this is a watershed moment for this young Browns team.
Of course, that’s been said before, but it’s never exactly panned out the way the team has hoped. Far too often have high expectations led to bitter disappointment. A loss today might bring a level of disappointment not seen in quite some time.
Maybe that’s a testament to the young talent on the Browns, though that won’t necessarily make anyone feel better should the Browns lose at home to Charlie Batch.
Therefore, this is a must-win situation for Cleveland. It’s a must-win because the Browns have to finally escape the depths of despair that have plagued this city for so long. And it’s a must-win because a loss like this just shouldn’t be possible.