realignment, head-to-head divisional match-ups have been de-emphasized.
The Steelers used to play 10 divisional games during a season and now only face
six. Conceivably, the Browns could sweep divisional play with the Steelers
losing all six, and Pittsburgh could still win the division with an 8-8 record.
becomes more important is how each team in the AFC North fares against the slew
of common opponents. There are eight such games: Tennessee, Indianapolis,
New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Carolina, and Houston.
Cleveland and Pittsburgh essentially have the same schedule, save two games.
The Steelers have already lost their two (New England and Oakland) while the
Browns already lost one (KC), with a game at New York against the Jets standing
between Cleveland and their last game against the Steelers.
for all your fretting about the Titans, Colts, Saints, and Bucs, realize that
Browns fans share your concern. A late season game in Tampa may look
formidable right now, but the Browns must make the same trip on October 13th.
Both the Browns and the Steelers must travel the same rough road and all that
starts this Sunday in Nashville.
might be eyeing that Saints-Bears match up during the early games this Sunday,
but Browns-Titans is of much more importance. Seem like a slow week
thanks to the Steeler bye? You might find the news of RB Eddie George and
QB Steve McNair missing practice due to injuries of the utmost concern. An
entire season could turn on the mere difference of the Browns facing a banged up
Titans team and the Steelers facing a healthy one (Tennessee has until November
17th to get better).
the Browns come up short this Sunday, the Steelers could win their next home
game against Cleveland and never look back. A 14-game season never looked
For those of you wondering about those other two teams in the North… The
Ravens have blown two of the games against common opponents. So, Baltimore
is already in a big hole. They could climb out of it by beating the
Dolphins and Broncos (and you thought the Patriots and Raiders were a bad draw).
The Bengals start this Sunday at Atlanta. A loss against the Falcons could
be redeemed by a win in Buffalo, their very last game of the season. Of
course, an 0-3 start with the following three games against the Bucs, Colts, and
Steelers might end all hope right there. I'd call it a Week 3 AFC North
divisional lynchpin. There is plenty at stake for the Steelers this