CLEVELAND, Ohio — It’s a good thing Browns coach Kevin Stefanski isn’t the thought police like he said last week, because his players are suddenly thinking — and tweeting — mighty big.
Myles Garrett and many of his Browns teammates took to Twitter to hint at an AFC North crown after the Steelers were upset, 23-17, Monday by Washington to fall to 11-1.
The Steelers are now just two games ahead of the 9-3 Browns with the two teams meeting in Cleveland in the season finale Jan. 3.
Suddenly, the Browns are thinking about the division title instead of fighting for one of the three AFC wild-card spots.
Jarvis Landry and others weighed in after Alex Smith outdueled Ben Roethlisberger.
The Browns lost 38-7 to the Steelers on Oct. 18, but the Steelers, in the midst of three games in 12 days because of COVID-19 rescheduling, snuck past a virus-ravaged Ravens team 19-14 on Wednesday.
The sloppy performance against Baltimore had Mike Tomlin saying afterward, “It was really junior varsity to be honest with you.’’
Asked to explain their poor red-zone display, Tomlin said “us sucking.”
Meanwhile, the Browns have won four straight including Sunday’s 41-35 victory over the now 8-4 Titans that made them legit in the eyes of the NFL.
Currently the top seed for one of the three wild-card spots, the Browns now apparently have their eyeballs — emojis and all — on a bigger prize.
For most of this season, the Browns have adhered to Kevin Stefanski’s mantra of taking it one game at a time.
“We are 9-3,’’ Garrett said after Sunday’s game. “That’s about as good as I can put it. Have to take it one week at a time. That’s the record right now, and we are just hoping to be 1-0 after next Monday. Just do our best to prepare and get ahead on the next team preparation wise, film-study wise and doing what we can to know what they are going to do.”
He added “we have the guys to get after (Ravens QB) Lamar (Jackson) if he is back.”
That season finale in Cleveland could be for the division crown depending on how the next few weeks go.
The Steelers finish: at Buffalo (8-3), at Cincinnati (2-9-1), vs. Indianapolis (8-4) and at Cleveland (9-3).
The Browns finish: vs. the Ravens (6-5), at the Jets (0-12) at the Giants (5-7) and at home vs. the Steelers.
The Ravens host the Cowboys tomorrow night before they come to town for the Monday Night Football game on Dec. 14.
Stefanski’s ‘I’m not the thought police’ remark came in response to receiver KhaDarel Hodge saying the Titans weren’t ‘a super team’ and could ‘be beat like anybody else.’ He also said he believes the Browns ‘can go deep into the playoffs’ and that only the Browns can stop themselves.
Now, Hodge has some company in talking playoffs.
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