Terez Paylor and Charles Robinson break down the Steelers vs Browns playoff matchup on the latest Yahoo Sports NFL Podcast.
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TEREZ PAYLOR: What do you think it would take for the unthinkable to happen, which would be the NFL being moved off its spot, which the league never likes to do.
CHARLES ROBINSON: The league has to make a decision here. And if they're not going to push the game, so say they lose a few more players. It gets out. It's 7, 8, 9 players on your COVID list. I think for them to not only not let those players play, which they can obviously, but also remove Kevin Stefanski completely, can't be part of game day decisions at all, is malpractice.
I absolutely think that's a hatchet job by the league. I think that to me, if this season has taught us anything, it's that the league doesn't have to be consistent with its decisions. It can make decisions as it goes in favor of the product, in favor of doing what it thinks is the right decision at that time. The right decision at this time is to take a franchise that has its first playoff game in 18 years and allow them to have the best possible chance of competing on Sunday night. That is probably letting Kevin Stefanski coach from home.
Now people are going to say, well, the Lions and Darrell Bevell. Let me tell you something right now. The NFL owes the Lions nothing. I don't think you affect the product and you take a team that really should be a good storyline for the NFL about how, hey, your franchise is in tatters. But you make a couple of the right decisions, you can turn this around pretty quickly.
Cleveland should be psyched about its first playoff game in 18 years, all these different things. Instead, it's been a soul crushing week. I think the NFL has the ability to go, you know what? We're going to bend a rule here because we're the NFL and we can do that in a pandemic season. We learn things as we go.
It's not static. A decision we made in August doesn't have to continue to be the decision we make in January. We're going to do this for the right reasons. And we're going to allow Kevin Stefanski the ability to have an impact on this game.
I don't think they're going to do that. And I think it is absolutely something that if I were a Cleveland fan, or I was ownership, or I was the front office, or the coaching staff, I would remember that about the NFL forever. I would remember that forever.
TEREZ PAYLOR: I hear you on that, man. And I get that. All things considered, they have a chance to win this game.
Pittsburgh's offensive has stunk for a month. Like teams have been squatting on their underneath routes, they've been forcing them to like win downfield, which they can't always do. Like this is like a winnable game for a playoff game.
They don't have Bud Dupree. We keep talking about that. Like this is not the same Steeler team we saw in the middle of November. Cleveland, and there's a scenario where they could have won this game.
And you know what? Maybe they still can if they can get their run game going and they can do the play action stuff off that. But to not have Kevin Stefanski out there, who we know is a part of the red zone stuff they do, who we know is a part of the third down. Like the critical situations, you're going to want the guy that lead you.
So what was it, an 11-win season? It really sucks for Cleveland, man. Like it really sucks.
But I do think the one redemptive part for them is that they got to play this game and it's not move back. They're not facing a juggernaut team, man. Like Pittsburgh can be beat, especially if you can limit their pass game. We already know they can't run.
Like there's a scenario where the Browns can still win this football game and rally behind these guys. But it's not going to be easy. You're not going to have Joel Bitonio, who's a great offensive guard. Like it sucks. It really does.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Elements of the other-- beyond Kevin Stefanski, they're going to be elements of the coaching staff that are probably not going to be there. So you're going to have players and coaches who aren't there. I mean, I get on one hand, I understand. This is the season we're in. And things like this happen. And it's attrition.
And it was always part of the deal. You and I talked about that the entire year, you know. A breakdown is part of the deal. You deal with it. The league told everybody we consider these injuries now. It's about competitive.
But again, I just keep going back to this season more than any in history for the NFL, and the union by the way, has been a season of augmenting the decisions you make. Deciding to take information from past situations and maybe do something a little bit different to create the best possible outcome for you. And I think the best possible outcome for the NFL is to provide a postseason stage on Sunday night no less in the postseason and give people the best possible game they can get.