Given the benefit of low expectations, a majority of the football punditry seems content to place Romeo Crennel above Mike Tomlin for consideration for coach of the year. They cite that he's been able to overcome instability at the quarterback position - which, of course, he created by stalling to make a decision in the preseason, ultimately picking the wrong QB by virtue of a coin flip - and a culture of losing, which he's had now three seasons to turn around. He's still 15-25 as a head coach.
Derek Anderson's emergence does a great deal to compensate for many of Crennel's other shortcomings. Like fellow vaunted coordinator turned mediocre AFC North coach Marvin Lewis, Crennel was known for his defensive acumen as the coordinator in New England, yet Cleveland's D ranks dead last in the NFL in terms of yardage allowed.
Tomlin, though taking over a more talented team, was filling a position held for 15 years by his predecessor, coming off a season in which the team looked lost and dealing with the outsize expectations that greet any Steelers coach. Crennel has the Browns dealing with the pleasant surprise of a possible playoff run. Tomlin has the Steelers in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders.
Crennel does look like a Battletoad, so I suppose he deserves some additional adversity points for that.
His Browns, meanwhile, will have to achieve something approaching parity to have a chance in Heinz Field, where the Steelers have won all four games of their games there this season by a combined score of 122-26. The Steelers open the week as nine and a half point favorites and have a good chance of having the boost of having Aaron Smith return to the lineup.
Note: The kick-off of the Steelers game Dec. 9 against the Patriots has been moved to 4:15 p.m., no doubt to ensure a larger TV audience witnesses James Harrison snapping Brady's legs. He'll make a pretty corpse, I think.