SERIES HISTORY: 128th regular-season meeting. Pittsburgh leads the series, 69-58. The Steelers have a 12-game winning streak at home. Pittsburgh beat the Browns 24-9 in Cleveland last month and have won seven of the past eight. The Steelers have also beaten the Browns twice in the playoffs (1994 and 2002).
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Steelers have won the AFC North and are locked in as the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. As a result, coach Mike Tomlin said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell, wide receiver Antonio Brown and center Maurkice Pouncey might get the day off.
This provides Cleveland with an opportunity finish the season with two straight wins and earn a victory in Pittsburgh for the first time since 2003.
If quarterback Robert Griffin III cannot play because of a concussion, the Browns will go with rookie Cody Kessler, who is looking to show he can be the everyday starter.
Whether it's Griffin or Kessler, Cleveland will need to avoid costly mistakes to escape with a win. The Steelers' backups, however, also want to show Tomlin they are worthy of more playing time and will be a challenge for Cleveland. Pittsburgh backup quarterback Landry Jones has shown he can make plays and will test the Browns' secondary.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Steelers WR Eli Rogers vs. Browns CB Joe Haden. Rogers has an opportunity to showcase his skills, with Antonio Brown likely getting the game off. Rogers has 42 receptions for 533 yards and three touchdowns mainly as the slot receiver. He will likely matchup with Haden, who is one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Haden has just three interceptions, mainly because teams avoid his side of the field.
--Browns WR Terrelle Pryor vs. Steelers CB Ross Cockrell. Pryor has had a solid season, with 70 receptions for 913 yards and four touchdowns. He also dominated this matchup in the earlier game, with five receptions for 97 yards. The Steelers have improved their pass defense, which ranks 15th. Cockrell is still looking for his first interception and trying to prove he can be a lockdown corner.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--Out: CB Trey Caldwell (hamstring)
--Questionable: CB Joe Haden (neck, groin), LB Cam Johnson (groin), RB Duke Johnson (ankle)
--Out: S Robert Golden (ankle), TE Ladarius Green (concussion), DE Stephon Tuitt (knee)
--Questionable: LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle), TE Xavier Grimble (ribs)
Pittsburgh LB Jarvis Jones. The Steelers' first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft is looking to finish strong. Since opening the season as a starter, Jones has fallen down the depth chart. He was a healthy scratch last week for what was ostensibly the AFC North championship against the Ravens. With James Harrison likely to get more rest as Pittsburgh gears up for a playoff run, Jones has to take advantage of the extended playing time. The Steelers did not pick up the fifth-year option on Jones and are unlikely to re-sign him. As a result, Jones might also be able to catch the attention of scouts from other teams searching for pass rushers next season.
-- Browns QB Robert Griffin III has run for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the past three games. Griffin, however, is under concussion protocol and his status is uncertain.
-- Browns QB Cody Kessler ranks second among rookie quarterbacks with a 65.6 completion percentage (min. 150 att.).
-- Browns RB Isaiah Crowell ran for two touchdowns last week. He is the first Browns running back with 800 or more rushing yards (800) seven or more rushing touchdowns (7) since 2012.
-- Browns WR Terrelle Pryor leads team with 913 receiving yards. He can become the seventh wide receiver in team history with 1,000-yard receiving yards in a season. Browns CBs Joe Haden (19 interceptions, 100 passes defended) and Tramon Williams (20 interceptions, 97 passes defended) are two of four players in the NFL with 15 or more interceptions and 95 or passes defended since 2010.
-- Steelers Ben Roethlisberger is 10th QB in NFL history with 300 or touchdown passes (301). He also has 3,819 passing yards and needs just 181 more for his fifth career season with at least 4,000 passing yards. Roethlisberger has passed for 895 yards (298.3 per game) and six touchdowns in the past three games against Cleveland.
-- Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell has run for 835 yards (139.2 per game) and six touchdowns in the past six matchups. He has the third-highest scrimmage yards per game average (157) in NFL history. Bell ranks second in the NFL with 1,268 rushing yards and third with 1,884 scrimmage yards.
-- Steelers WR Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 106 catches and ranks second with 12 touchdown receptions.
- Steelers LB James Harrison is the franchise leader with 79.5 sacks.
Even though the Steelers will be playing with mostly backups, they still might be too deep for Cleveland. The Browns have also traditionally struggled in Pittsburgh and already earned the elusive first win so the pressure is off going 0-16.
OUR PICK: Steelers, 24-10.