Deshaun Watson, Kenny Pickett get first look at Browns-Steelers feud

PITTSBURGH – Deshaun Watson will make his sixth start for the Browns on Sunday. The quarterback, though, has already figured out what this start — in Pittsburgh against the Steelers — means to Browns fans.

“Most definitely,” Watson said this week. “I know the Browns fans are pulling very, very hard for this win. They want this one to finish out the year and be able to go into next season with two victories under our belt, especially against Pittsburgh.”

That’s especially when a win over Pittsburgh could potentially be what knocks the Steelers out of the playoffs. Pittsburgh is 8-8 and needs to beat the Browns (7-9) to have a chance to earn the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs.

The Steelers do need help to get that spot. They need the Buffalo Bills to win at the New England Patriots, and they also need the Miami Dolphins to lose at home to the New York Jets.

Still, those two things can happen and Pittsburgh doesn’t get in without beating the Browns. That means, much like they did in last Sunday’s win over the Washington Commanders, the Browns – even after the late-week drama – can at least be a contributing factor in a team’s playoff elimination.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Jan.  1, 2023, in Landover, Md.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Oh, there’s also the opportunity the Browns have to sweep the season series with the rival Steelers, which they haven’t done since 1988. Cleveland won 29-17 over Pittsburgh in Week 3.

“It would be huge for us,” All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio said. “They’ve been a very, very good franchise at least my whole career. They’ve been very good and they’ve done some good things. So for us to get a second win against them in Pittsburgh, I think it would be a big thing for us.

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