Preview: Cleveland Browns | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

The shocking images of Cleveland scoring 24 consecutive, unanswered points, after Pittsburgh had done the same earlier, is still fresh in the minds of Steelers fans everywhere.

And rightfully so.

This Sunday's game marks the first regular season rematch of any divisional opponents. The first game was played at Heinz Field in the opening week of the season, where Cleveland closed a 27-3 deficit at halftime to tie the game at 27 all with an overwhelming 11:20 remaining in the 4th quarter. Both teams would deadlock until Shaun Suisham kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.

The Steelers look to erase that game from their memory, but have to travel to First Energy Stadium in Cleveland to do so. Both teams are riding momentum from week 5 victories. The Brown's win last week was the largest come from behind road win in NFL history, when Cleveland rallied from 25-point deficit.

The AFC's leader in total yards from scrimmage, Le'Veon Bell, looks to exploit a Browns defense that gives up the 29th most rushing yards in the league.

Ben Roethlisberger, who has connected on a league-high 12 passes of 25 or more yards, will try to get in sync with WR Antonio Brown, who also leads the league with 8 of those catches.

The Cleveland Browns give up the 28th most passing yards, and are next-to-last in total YPG defense, only behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pittsburgh's offense could outmatch Cleveland with their 4th best offense, with 404 yards. Pittsburgh will need to convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns, where they are 18th in efficiency.

The Browns laid 217 rushing yards on the Steelers in week 1. Pittsburgh has looked more impressive against the run, but by mostly inferior running teams, who averaged a small amount of attempts in those games.

Browns RB Ben Tate returns to the team for the first time since the opener. QB Brian Hoyer boasts a second-half passer rating of 103.8, and lead the Browns with 291 passing yards and  3 touchdowns last week. Hoyer's interception thrown last week is the only turnover the Browns have committed this season.

As a potential boost to the Steelers defense, LB Ryan Shazier practiced and is questionable for Sunday's game. UPDATE: LB Ryan Shazier and S Shamarko Thomas have been ruled out for Sunday's game.

Conclusion

Only time will tell if Ben Roethlisberger can improve upon his 18-1 record against the Browns, and if the Steelers can sweep the regular season series for the 11th time since 2000. While recent games have showed us a team that is up and down at times, in their favor is the close nature of the Browns games this year: all of Cleveland's games have been decided by less than 3 points.

Once again self-defeating penalties and turnovers could factor into a game winner. As noted prior, the Browns have protected the football well, with only one turnover in 4 games. On the other hand, Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times this season, an average of 5 per game.

Pittsburgh will have to protect Ben and the football, while not committing penalties that favor Cleveland. If they do, this game should not be as close as the rest of Cleveland's encounters this season.

 





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