Lately, the Pittsburgh Steelers have looked just as weak as the Cleveland Browns, the team they face Thursday night. Well, maybe not on the field, but on the scoreboard, where the Steelers have dropped four in a row.
In fact, the only team in the NFL with a longer current slide is Cleveland, which has dropped seven straight and seems determined to grab the worst-in-the-league label for itself despite two other one-win teams, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
Few NFL rivalries are as intense or nasty as this one, so the NFL Network must be counting on enmity replacing quality, something the Browns haven't displayed all year and the defending champion Steelers lost a month ago.
Pittsburgh is a 9-point favorite for the road game, needing a victory to keep its slipping postseason hopes alive.
"You see a lot of guys are bummed and down, but that's not going to change things and give us a win against the Raiders, that's behind us," Ben Roethlisberger said. "Of course, we can be mad and upset about it, but we have to look forward and that's to the Cleveland Browns."
The Browns have nothing but being a spoiler to look forward to. Not this time.
Arizona (minus 3) at San Francisco
The Cardinals have begun to resemble the 2009 NFC champions.
BEST BET: CARDINALS, 27-13
Miami (plus 2 1/2) at Jacksonville
Both teams have solid wild-card aspirations. Too bad hardly anybody in Jacksonville will see this one.
UPSET SPECIAL: DOLPHINS, 20-17
Denver (plus 8) at Indianapolis
History is at hand for the Colts, as in 22 straight regular-season victories. They'll make the record books, but it won't be easy against revived Denver.
Cincinnati (plus 7) at Minnesota
A win gives the Bengals the AFC North. Vikings need victory and Packers loss for NFC North title.
New Orleans (no line) at Atlanta
Saints learned a lesson, almost a costly one, at Washington last weekend.
Detroit (plus 13) at Baltimore
Can Ravens cover Calvin Johnson without drawing flags? Yep.
Carolina (plus 13) at New England
These sure don't look like the Patriots we are used to. But three straight losses? No way.
Philadelphia (plus 1) at N.Y. Giants
Winner could be in charge in the NFC East. DeSean Jackson's availability might decide it.
San Diego (plus 3) at Dallas
Toughest game on the board. Chargers are surging, looking for postseason bye. Cowboys hate December. Still ...
NY Jets (no line) at Tampa Bay
Uncertainty about Mark Sanchez's knee eliminates line. Jets actually are still in AFC race.
Green Bay (minus 3 1/2) at Chicago
Hey Packers, you won't need any pass interference calls to save touchdowns against Bears.
Seattle (plus 4 1/2) at Houston
Texans no longer playing for postseason, but for Gary Kubiak's job.
St. Louis (plus 13) at Tennessee
Time to start another winning streak, Titans?
Buffalo (plus 1 1/2) at Kansas City
Not much excitement here.
Washington (minus 2) at Oakland
Versus spread, 3-11 (82-97-2 season); Straight up, 9-7 (126-56 season)
Best Bet: 6-7
Upset Special: 8-5
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