This Sunday's Browns-Steelers game at Heinz Field looked like an intriguing end to the 2008 regular season when the schedule was announced in April.
The Browns had been coming off a decent 2007 season and were supposed to be the Steelers' top challenge for the AFC North title.
Now, the game is essentially meaningless with the Browns starting their fourth-string quarterback against the Steelers, who can neither hurt nor help their playoff position.
Who would have thought the Browns-Steelers would rank near the bottom of significant week 17 games while the Dolphins-Jets would be near the top?
Remember this when the 2009 schedule is announced this coming April. It's fun to analyze the schedule in the offseason, but it rarely pans out the way it's predicted.
Speaking of the 2009 schedule, the Steelers already know 15 of their 16 opponents for next year.
The only team that hasn't been determined is the AFC East champion, which will visit Heinz Field next year. Other home games next season will be the Chargers, Raiders, Vikings, Packers, Ravens, Bengals and Browns.
The road schedule will be highlighted by another trip to Nashville. So, if the Steelers don't get a chance to pay back the Titans in the AFC Championship next month, they'll at least get a shot in 2009.
Other road games will be at the Broncos, Chiefs, Bears, Lions, Ravens, Bengals and Browns.
It may be safe to say the Steelers won't have the NFL's "toughest" schedule again next year.
History on their side
Even if the Steelers lose Sunday, they will finish the season with an 11-5 mark.
The Steelers have finished with 11 or more wins in 11 previous seasons and have advanced to the AFC Championship in 10 of those 11 years.
The only year they didn't make it to the AFC Championship was in 1992, Bill Cowher's first season, when they went 11-5 and lost to the Bills in the first round.
It's tough to argue with James Harrison's selection as the Steelers' MVP. The voting is done by the players.
One had to figure a defensive player would get the award, and Harrison has been the most visible player with a team-record 16 sacks.
The defense has been so good, though, that the MVP should have somehow rewarded the entire unit. In that regard, defensive captain James Farrior would have been just as good of a choice.
NFL Week No. 17
Game of the week: Dolphins at the Jets, 4:15 p.m. Sunday (CBS). This one should have been the NBC 8:15 game.
Upset special: Dolphins (+21/2) at the Jets.
Fantasy tip: Arizona needs to play well to get some momentum heading into the playoffs. Playing at home against Seattle should help that.
Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461.