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Scouting the Browns’ Week 17 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers - Our Q&A with Behind the Steel Curtain

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We ask about how the Steelers will handle Week 17 with a playoff spot clinched, some players to watch, and if Justin Gilbert could finally play some cornerback.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns are on the road to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. To help preview the Week 17 contest, I reached out to Jeff Hartman from Behind the Steel Curtain and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!


Chris: “Almost treating this like a preseason game, which players on offense do you want to see succeed on Sunday, so that they can possibly play a niche-but-important role this postseason?”

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Could we see WR Demarcus Ayers in a big role for Pittsburgh on Sunday?
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chris: “Would you be upset if the Steelers' key playmakers even played a series on Sunday, or do you want them to get at least a little bit of work in?”

Jeff: “When it comes to Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, they don't have anything to prove. They could take a week off and be able to pick up just where they left off. Plain and simple, those three, along with center Maurkice Pouncey, should be on the inactive list heading into Week 17. It is incredible to think how the Steelers have made the playoffs the last three seasons, and this will be the first time Le'Veon Bell will be on the field for the game. Rest these guys.”


NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Justin Gilbert still hasn’t seen action on defense for the Steelers.
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Chris: “Is there any chance we see Justin Gilbert play some cornerback this week? Has he see any defensive action since these teams last faced each other?”

Jeff: “Gilbert hasn't seen any defensive action, has been listed inactive a few weeks, and has primarily been playing special teams. If there is a week Gilbert sees the field, it is this week. If the Steelers plan on resting Ross Cockrell, William Gay, or Artie Burns, Gilbert will be the next man up to see the field. There is nothing he would probably rather do than to see the field, and possibly get an INT against his old team.”


Chris: “Odds are that the Steelers will face the Dolphins in the first round of the playoffs, but there's a slight chance it could be the Chiefs. With getting into a full breakdown, is there one match-up you prefer, and why?”

Jeff: “Since the game will be at Heinz Field, you have to look at which quarterback you'd rather face. In my opinion, I'll take Matt Moore, a backup, over a red-hot Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs. Throw in the revenge factor after the Dolphins ran all over the Steelers earlier this year and I'll take the 'phins come to Heinz Field in the AFC Wild Card game.”


Chris: “If you were in the Browns' position, as an outside looking in, do you think it makes sense for them to tank and secure the No. 1 pick, or still try to go all out to upset a rival?”

Jeff: “At 1-14, momentum can be thrown out the window. Beating the Steelers at Heinz Field to finish the year would be big, but would it carry over to the next season? Probably not. At this point, you have to start looking forward to next season, and the Browns could use as many good picks as possible. Wouldn't fault them at all if they tank to secure the No. 1 pick.”


Thanks again to Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions.