The Steelers may be looking up at the Browns in the AFC North standings by season’s end, but Cleveland’s Week 1 loss sure helps matters.
All the while watching the Kansas City Chiefs, who weren’t playing at their A-plus level, come from behind and continue the Cleveland Browns‘ elongated stretch of suffering on the opening week of the regular season.
Right now, Pittsburgh sits atop the AFC North, while Cleveland is now hanging out in the basement. The other division-leading squad, the Cincinnati Bengals, can’t hold a candle to the rest of the division, right? And now, the hope is the Las Vegas Raiders can somehow knock off the suddenly injury-prone Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.
In terms of power-ranking pecking order, the Bengals won’t be anywhere but the last spot in the division. At least that’s the thinking.
But are the Steelers actually going to be better than the Browns?
Probably not. And that’s why Pittsburgh’s Week 1 win, combined with Cleveland’s loss, could potentially be so important.
Steelers could still be outclassed by Browns in AFC North
Pound for pound, Cleveland possesses the stronger team, evidenced by one of the league’s better offensive lines, a sturdy defense with a well-equipped secondary, offensive playmakers and a quarterback, Baker Mayfield, whose arm strength is not in question like the Steelers’ own, Ben Roethlisberger.
We can go down the list, perhaps even noting how Pittsburgh’s defense should outclass that of Cleveland, but let’s simply let FanSided’s Matt Verderame do the talking here:
The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t better than the Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh deserves credit for beating the Buffalo Bills 23-16 at Highmark Stadium. The Steelers’ defense was excellent, forcing Bills quarterback Josh Allen to. have a miserable afternoon. However, the offense is exactly the same as it was a year ago. Ben Roethlisberger has little arm strength, the line is getting bullied and the combination means zero ability to push the ball.
Meanwhile, Cleveland lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 33-29 at Arrowhead. Yet the Browns didn’t have receiver Odell Beckham Jr., turned the ball over three times and still almost beat the AFC’s standard. While the records show Pittsburgh off to a great start and the Browns languishing after a tough loss, there’s no reason to think the Steelers hold off a superior Cleveland team.
Agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the gift Kansas City gave to Pittsburgh. That could have some serious ramifications down the stretch.
Steelers won a game they were supposed to lose
Always take advantage of a division rival winding up on the wrong side of the win/loss column.
Sure, it’s just Week 1. Pittsburgh hasn’t clinched the AFC North after a sole week. And there’s bound to be a must-watch stretch in the final weeks of the regular season to determine just how the division’s pecking order shakes out.
Yet a Week 1 game counts just as one in Week 18. And especially in a scenario where the Steelers pulled off an unexpected win over a Bills team that’s also anticipated to be towards the very top of the conference standings this year.
More importantly, though, Pittsburgh handled its business when Cleveland wasn’t able to handle its own.
That doesn’t matter if it’s Week 1 or 18.