The Steelers open the season on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, a team who is typically lucky to win a game a year; and didn’t even do that in 2017. But this Cleveland team is a bit different; they are improved and have hopes of winning a handful of games, if not more. The Steelers are of the mindset that this year will be the year they win the Super Bowl and get past the New England Patriots. Like many years in the past, it starts off in Cleveland, playing the Browns in a stadium Ben Roethlisberger is 11-2 in, making him the winningest quarterback in the stadium's history.
Keys to a Steeler Victory
1. As per usual when playing an inferior opponent, the Steelers cannot afford to make the costly mistakes, turnovers, dumb penalties or clock mismanagement. It’s those types of things that keep bad teams in games with them.
2. The defense is going to need to contain Tyrod Taylor to the pocket. If he gets outside of the pocket, he can make plays with his legs and this defense isn’t built to stop that.
3. The entire offense needs to pick up James Conner. He’s very capable of gaining 100 yards but they need to be there for him early, to help him shake any nerves he may have in his first pro start.
4. The offensive line needs to protect Big Ben from Myles Garrett. He’s a stud and can cause a lot of disruption.
Things to Watch
1. James Conner - How could he not top this list in his first pro start with the whole Le’Veon Bell cloud hanging overhead?
2. T.J. Watt – Last year he had a big game in the opener and I think he’ll do the same this go round. I’m looking for 3 sacks from Watt to start the season.
3. Terrell Edmunds – How will the Steelers first round pick do in his first regular season game? Pre-season is a far cry away from regular season speed; will he be ready?
4. Bruce Arians in the booth, Todd Haley now the OC of the Browns and Randy Fichtner the new OC for the black and gold. These are the three most recent OC’s for the Steelers, all different in personalities, styles, and opinions and it will just be interesting to see the game called on the field being analyzed by Arians in the booth at the same time.
The Steelers will win this game 27-17. It may be close at times but the black and gold are too good, too experienced and very ready to prove Le’Veon Bell they can win without him.