I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. It’s finally “December cold” outside, the Browns are playing the top team in the AFC on a short week, and frankly I just can’t see too many scenarios in which the Browns even keep tonight’s game in Pittspuke close. But, we are not bandwagoners, here. We write, no matter the outlook.
Pittsburgh is 11th in the league in yards per game on offense at 368 yards per, and they’re ninth in passing. What? These are not your father’s Steelers on offense. In fact, they actually haven’t been scoring a ton throughout the season (just over 22 points per game), but they haven’t had to. Why not? Well, they ARE your father’s Steelers on defense. First in the league in yardage allowed. Second in passing yards allowed. Seventh in rushing yards allowed. Fourth in points allowed. In other words, if you’ve been watching the Browns’ offense, it’s going to be a rough, rough night. Without further ado…
The Browns Will Win If…
Editor’s note: Similar to the past weeks, we have started things off with sharing some takes with our audience over at Still WFNY – please feel free to head over to Cleveland.com to partake.
Scott: …they scrap all gameplan that trades in consistency. This team will have zero chance to win a contest on the road against a superior opponent if they choose to go toe-to-toe. This team just got it handed to them by the second Bald Bull – you knew the rush is coming, but there was nothing you could do but wince following the third hop. Whether its fake punts, Wildcat, Cyclone, Pony, Flea Flickers or Statue of Liberty, this Browns offense has to do something creative and hope for the best. They can limit Rasard Mendenhall to 60 yards and a score. But if they can’t produce on the other end, it’s two losses in five days.
DP: …they play flawlessly. I mean, FLAWLESSLY. No turnovers. A solid, consistent, offensive gameplan that finds weaknesses and exploits them, and then is executed to perfection. No defensive hiccups. Pittsburgh’s rushing offense isn’t quite as strong as was the Ravens’, but the Browns none the less have to tighten up in that aspect if they want to stay in this game. If Pittsburgh gets a lead of 10 points, it’s basically over. I’d like to see the Browns able to run the ball on offense, but it will take commitment and execution to have success against Pittsburgh. A big key for the Browns tonight will be success on first down. If they can routinely pick up 4 yards on first down, it’s going to open up the playbook and allow them a little more wiggle room; and also, theoretically, it would mean they’re going to pick up some more first downs and string some drives together. If they’re looking at 2nd and 9 a lot, it’s going to be a LONG night.
Rick: …there are turnovers. Plenty of turnovers. Which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Pittsburgh is a -6 in turnover margin with 18 giveaways this year. So a few turnovers could certainly happen, and would go a long way in helping the Browns win. You would hope that there is a pride factor at work here as well. I froze my rear-end off at the last Browns win over the Steelers, a game in which the Browns just willed a victory from thin air. It could happen. We could also get stomped.
Kirk: ….the Steelers feel like losing. What can I say? The Browns looked like garbage at home against the Ravens, in every aspect. I have the rain-soaked hoodie and parking stub to prove it. Now, they go on the road on a short week to take on the Steelers, who come off dismantling the Bengals. In a division of haves, the Browns are the lone have not, and it’s not even close. The Steelers could overlook the Browns, and they would still likely have time to recover from a lackluster first half or three quarters performance. Roethlisberger has been immune to anything Browns short of Rob Ryan’s now-defunct amoeba defense. Mike Wallace is a legit deep threat, and Joe Haden has given up some big plays in the past few games. None of that will matter, though, because if Sunday was any indication, the Steelers can hand the ball to Mendenhall or anyone with a pulse and they can rack up 200+ rushing yards as a team. On offense, McCoy MUST avoid the headache-spawning, vomit-inducing turnovers. On special teams, can Josh Cribbs, the player who may best understand what is supposed to be a rivalry, dial up some return magic? Short of that, I see an all out dismantling.
What say, there, fuzzy britches?