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September 02, 1995

CENTRAL

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Division prediction

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are virtually seeded into the playoffs because both are likely to sweep the other three teams in the division -- Houston, Cincinnati and Jacksonville.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers:

1994 record: Won division with a 12-4 mark, lost AFC title game to San Diego.

Coach: Bill Cowher (33-19).

Key additions: OL Tom Newberry, RB Erric Pegram, CB Alvoid Mays and TE Mark Bruener.

Key losses: TE Eric Green, OL Duval Love, RB Barry Foster, DL Gerald Williams and DB Gary Jones.

Strengths: The defense, which ranked second in the league, should be tough again because all 11 starters are back, but Deon Figures hasn't completely recovered after getting shot in the knee in the off-season.

Weaknesses: The passing offense was 23rd in the league last year and it will be without Eric Green, although the Steelers hope that TE Mark Bruener can fill that spot. But Neil O'Donnell's quarterbacking remains a major question mark.

Extra point: Bill Cowher may turn out to be the Chuck Knox of his era. He has yet to get to the Super Bowl despite home-field edge

in the playoffs two of the past three seasons.

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