Scouting Ahead: Cleveland Browns Week 8 opponent, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OHIO – JANUARY 03: Rashard Higgins #82 of the Cleveland Browns goes to stiff arm Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Looking ahead to the Cleveland Browns match-up with AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, an opponent strengthened by defense and motivated by revenge.

Well, it’s Steelers Week.

The Cleveland Browns (4-3) face off against their long-time rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) with a lot on the line. The two last met in Pittsburgh in the AFC Wild Card Round of the 2020 playoffs, and the Browns completely stomped their opponent that night.

A highly functional offense down the stretch made the scoreboard look kinder to the Steelers, but the 48-37 game was a truly dominant Browns performance. At the time it felt symbolic of the decline of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, but there are indications that they may not be done just yet. And in regards to the Browns, there is no guarantee that they are the successor in the AFC North.

This game is a crossroads game, with big implications for both teams as they attempt to claw their way back up the rankings and restore confidence for themselves and for their fans.

On the outside looking in…

We learned a lot about the AFC North last Sunday. Though it was a Bye week for the Steelers, and a Browns team obliterated by injuries scrapped their way past the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football, we all witnessed the possible emergence of a new power in the NFL: Zac Taylor’s Cincinnati Bengals.

Yes, you read that right. The Bengals are emerging as one of the better teams in football, and that is very bad news for the AFC North especially. They beat a very good Ravens team that was on a tear since their opening day loss, and did so in emphatic fashion.

One of the toughest divisions to play in, and arguably the most competitive, now has all four teams looking like contenders for playoff spots. Someone will certainly be left out, and before the season everyone thought it would be the Bengals.

It still could if they lost out from here, but there is nothing we’ve seen from them that indicates that is a possibility. Instead, we have the Browns and Steelers most likely both looking at an uphill battle to carve a playoff spot out of third place in the division.

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