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Steelers Must Reignite the Great Rivalry to Prove Themselves in 2019

August 7, 2019
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Steelers Must Reignite the Great Rivalry to Prove Themselves in 2019

As great as it has been to see the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens engage in a heated rivalry that recently revolved around Pittsburgh’s star-studded offense taking on Baltimore’s menacing defense, another rivalry must be ignited by Steelers Nation to quash a potential resurgence in the AFC North.

For the longest time, the Cleveland Browns have been nothing short of awful. Even in their big rival campaign of 2018, they couldn’t muster a winning record. But now, after a gigantic offseason of transactions, the Browns are being touted as favorites to win the division. The revival of the Browns roster has fans once again salivating at the prospect of a reignited all-time great NFL rivalry between them and the Steelers.

With the Ravens losing much of what made their team so tough to beat, its defense, it looks like it’s up to the Steelers to stop what was almost unthinkable just a couple of years ago – the Browns winning their division. However, it comes at a time when the Steelers are being perceived as weak and vulnerable after losing two studs in the offseason.

Steelers sans Brown and Bell

It was the major talking point of last season and this offseason: what will the Steelers do with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown? The answer, it turns out, was very simple: get rid of them both. Brown kicked up a lot of fuss last season, and Bell didn’t even show up, so now the Steelers pass the torch onto JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner as the full-time leads.

Luckily for them and Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, so everyone should have plenty of time and space to move the offense despite being without Bell and Brown. However, it looks to be a trying start to this kind of ‘fresh start’ season for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have been handed a mean slate to kick off the 2019 NFL season, facing four playoff teams in the first six games. No one wants to face the reigning Super Bowl champions in Week 1, but that’s exactly what the Steelers get, and the NFL predictions do not see Pittsburgh pulling away with a win – especially as they’re 1-4 at Gillette Stadium with the only win coming when Tom Brady was out.

After the Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks come to Heinz Field, followed by a trip to the San Francisco 49ers, hosting the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens, before then traveling to meet the Los Angeles Chargers before the Week 7 bye. A .500 shouldn’t be out of the question but it does mean that Pittsburgh will want to hit their stride coming into their match-ups against the Cleveland Browns.

Beating the big bad Browns

The Cleveland Browns have been the story of this NFL offseason, going big, loud, and aggressive to pull in major pieces. Among the key additions are Odell Beckham Jr, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, and Kareem Hunt when he returns after an eight-game ban.

The Steelers and Browns face off in what will hopefully be a rivalry-igniting matchup on Thursday Night Football at FirstEnergy Stadium. Pittsburgh will be coming in off of a mixed bag of games against the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, and Los Angeles Rams, whereas the Browns will have faced the Patriots on the road, then the Denver Broncos, and the Buffalo Bills.

The Browns are expected to be riding high coming into that crucial Week 11 meeting, which will be a difficult game for the Steelers. Both teams have relatively easy morale-boosting games in Week 12 before the two go again in Week 13 at Heinz Field.

It’s well within reason to expect the Steelers to take at least one of the games against the resurrected Browns, but most importantly, the team needs to make a statement that the AFC North is not for sale to Cleveland just yet.

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