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Browns 2017 opponent breakdown: Steelers, Weeks 1 and 17

Posted Jul 11, 2017

Cleveland opens and closes next season against its AFC North rival

One by one, ClevelandBrowns.com is breaking down each of the Browns’ 2017 regular season opponents as training camp fast approaches.

Who: Pittsburgh Steelers

When: Sept. 10 and Dec. 31

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio and Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Series history:  58-70 (Most recent: Steelers 27, Browns 24 in 2017 at Heinz Field)

Way-too-early storyline(s): The Browns open and close the 2017 regular season against AFC rival Pittsburgh. Cleveland was overpowered by the Steelers in their first meeting before losing in overtime in the season finale. After fortifying their offensive line and adding a widely-touted NFL Draft class, the Browns stand to improve following a 1-15 campaign in 2016. The Steelers, meanwhile, lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Pittsburgh will likely again contend for the playoffs and another divisional title in coach Mike Tomlin’s 11th season with the team.

Key players to watch: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, DL Cameron Hayward, LB James Harrison, LB Ryan Shazier, SS Mike Mitchell

What happened in Pittsburgh this offseason?

— The Steelers scooped up Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt with the 30th overall pick in the NFL Draft. He’s the younger brother of Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt and recorded 63 tackles, 15.5 for loss and 11.5 sacks last season.

— They re-signed all-world wide receiver Antonio Brown to a new five-year contract. Brown, who enters his eighth NFL season, caught 106 passes for 1,284 and 12 touchdowns in 2016.

— The Steelers are also optimistic they’ll have fellow wideout Martavis Bryant back on the field after the rising star was suspended last season. Bryant, who violated the league's substance abuse policy, was conditionally reinstated in April by commissioner Roger Goodell.

— On a more somber note, the Steelers lost legendary owner Dan Rooney, 84, this past spring. Rooney was also served as the United States Ambassador to Ireland under former President Barack Obama from 2009-2012.

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