Forget playoff scenarios and who the Steelers need to lose to stay in the hunt.
Just don't drop one to Cleveland. Even in the '06 letdown debacle, Pittsburgh couldn't manage to lose to the Browns. Embarrassing losses to Kansas City and Oakland are one thing, but letting the Browns break the Steelers 12-game winning streak would be the nadir of the second half of this decade.
Even with Hines either not playing or not playing extensively, even with rookies Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett getting most of the time at the corner positions, the Steelers are a superior team. But then you could say that with a lot of teams they've fallen to this year.
Against a healthier Steelers team earlier in the year (remember, it was Troy's first game back from his first injury), the Browns gave them a game. Mohamed Massoquoi had five catches for 83 yards. Now, with no Troy and two rookies (at least) starting in the secondary, there's more than just Josh Cribbs to worry about with that offense.
Cleveland has the worst statistical defense in the league, but having watching them in a few games, I don't think they're necessarily deserving of being called the worst. If they didn't have a horrendous offense (also ranked 32nd in the league) keeping them on the field all game, they'd like at least be seen as respectable. Even minus Hines, though, the Steelers offensive should be able to put up more than enough to come out on top, provided they don't keep turning it over in the red zone.
James Harrison doesn't usually strike me as much of a vocal leader, but of all the jawing going on publicly between players, I'm glad he's calling some of the other defenders out, seeing as how he's at least one of the few guys bringing his game from week to week. Debo is going to be here for some time to come, while James Farrior looks to be on the way out in the not too distant future. He's going to have to take over the mantle of captain at some point.
It stands to reason there's nothing left this team can take for granted at this point. They really could lose to Cleveland. Or they could win convincingly. You can really say they know what to expect with this team at the moment? A win here and maybe we'll talk (in guarded tones) scenarios and probabilities in the weeks to come.