When the Cleveland Browns (5-10) and Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) take the field on Sunday afternoon, neither team will be playing for anything greater than the satisfaction of victory. The Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs after a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16, joining a Browns team that has been out of the playoff hunt for much of the season.
As is the case with many teams merely playing out the string in Week 17, neither team has played as well as it hoped this year. The Steelers are a perennial playoff threat, and any season that falls short of that mark is undoubtedly seen as a failure. The Browns, or at least their fans, had little delusions of playoff grandeur, but will nonetheless be unsatisfied with a five or six win season. Either team can end the year on a bit of a high note with a win, though, when the game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
Elsewhere around the AFC North, both the Baltimore Ravens and Bengals will be battling for playoff position when they face each other in the season's final week. Both teams have clinched playoff spots but will need help to improve their seeds. Interestingly enough, a Ravens win coupled with a New England Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins would potentially set up a rematch between the Ravens and Bengals in the first round. That game also kicks at 1 p.m. on CBS.