By Ryan Mayer
(KDKA)- After resting some of their bigger names this past Sunday, the Steelers have another date with the Browns in the Wild Card round set for Sunday night at Heinz Field. It’s the third time the teams will be meeting this season, but the Browns will be without their main play caller and head coach, Kevin Stefanski, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
Stefanski is one of several Browns coaches that tested positive and the Cleveland team coming to Pittsburgh is one that could be missing multiple key pieces.
“It’s hard to really have an idea of how this team is going to look coming out, there are so many unknowns. The fact that Stefanski was put on the COVID list so early in the week and didn’t have that time to be around the team this week, to game plan, get everyone regrouped and get everyone back on the same page to play the same team they just played the week before, I think it’s difficult,” said NFL on CBS lead reporter Tracy Wolfson. “I think you can’t help but say, this can certainly affect a team.”
While the main questions about the Browns center around which players will and won’t be available for the game due to COVID, the main one surrounding the Steelers is what the play of their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, will look like after he sat out last week to allow for some rest entering the postseason. Wolfson says she thinks the team hopes the rest will re-energize Big Ben.
“I think they feel that rest can help him and help his body. And he was honest with us, we did the game few weeks ago, he said he’s not 100 percent,” said Wolfson. “He feels as though his arm is good but you know, he might have a shoulder thing, his knees, whatever it might be, there is something that is holding him back from being the guy that we saw at the beginning of the year getting that ball out quickly.”
Despite the week off, there is still the question of what his play will look like. As Wolfson points out, even in the midst of the 11-0 start to the season, it never felt like we saw the Steelers at the height of their powers.
“How he plays it remains to be seen, they have not put together a full four quarters. We have not seen this Steelers team play their best football even when they went through that undefeated run. There were still some questions,” said Wolfson.” I don’t know what kind of Steelers team we’re going to come out and see, I think there are a lot of question marks around them like there are with the Browns.”
“We still expect to see it though because we look at this roster and see the talent. We know the head coach in Mike Tomlin, we know the quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and we know all of the weapons that they have on offense and you know what their defense can do led by TJ Watt so you’re like wait a second why are we not seeing it,” continued Wolfson.
Injuries, particularly on the defensive side, have certainly played a part. On offense, the lack of a consistent running game has been puzzling considering the team’s history of producing physical rushing attacks. But, it is the possibility of the offensive pieces all falling into place that makes the team so interesting.
The oddsmakers give the Steelers the 8th-best odds of remaining playoff teams to win the Super Bowl, the 4th-best odds among AFC teams behind the Chiefs, Bills and Ravens. Any hopes of a trip to Tampa begin Sunday night with kickoff slated for 8:15 p.m. EST.