A lot on the line

When the Steelers and Browns play, you can throw records out the window. It's a match-up of two teams that are separated by less than 150 miles of interstate, two teams that always want to come out on top.

Over the years there were some classic match-ups over the years, some fiercely fought battles.

And this week it could be another classic.

Forget that the Steelers are 11-4 while the Browns are 4-11. It's not about that this week.

"Cleveland's going to do whatever they can to put a damper on our season as much as possible," said Trai Essex. "It's a rivalry and last time we played them, it was a hard fought game. They're not having the year I'm sure they wanted to, but whenever we play against each other it doesn't matter what our record is, we're going to get their best and they're going to get ours."

The Steelers defeated the Browns 14-3 at Heinz Field on Dec. 8 and expect a similar type of battle this week.

"You look at the first game and it was close, they played a really tough game and that was here," said Ryan Clark. "They are going to be excited about the game. The city is going to be pumped. We understand what is at stake for the Pittsburgh Steelers in this game. We are going to come out, play them hard and play them tough. We are excited about it. It's a good way to end the regular season."

What is on the line this week is the potential of a higher seed for the Steelers. Right now the Steelers are the fifth seed. But with a win over the Browns and some help around the NFL, they could finish as a one or two seed and win the AFC North.   

"There is a lot on the line," said Charlie Batch. "Everybody understands that. We still have the opportunity to be a number one seed."

For the Steelers to win the division and be a number two seed, first and foremost they have to defeat the Browns. In addition to defeating the Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals would have to defeat the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. To be the number one seed in the AFC, on top of beating the Browns, the Bengals would have to win and the Buffalo Bills would have to win at New England.  

"I wish it was clean cut and we had taken care of business in San Francisco like we were supposed to," said Essex. "But we didn't and some things have to happen we don't control. We made the playoffs but we don't control how things are going to fall as far as seeding goes, so we just have to see how things pan out."

The Steelers/Browns and Ravens/Bengals games both have been switched to 4:15 kickoffs on Sunday, so while they don't like to admit it some will be looking when the Ravens score is shown.

"I might peek up a couple of times, just to see," said Essex. "But mainly I'll be focused on the game. They're definitely going try to get us to that fifth loss."

To prevent that from happening, fear not, the focus will be strictly on the Browns while playing with the knowledge that a lot is on the line.

"We need to go out and play well," said Clark. "I feel like we need to have a dominant performance. We need to go in to the playoffs feeling like we are a team that is moving in the right direction.

"Also, you never want to lose to Cleveland. When you are in this city, when you play for this organization, that's a game you don't want to lose. You want to be the team to win this game."

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