The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in action and primed to rebound from a four-game losing streak, and are being handed about as favorable a set of circumstances you can ask for in doing so. Ben Roethlisberger is looking like he is back to pre-injury form, and they are going up against an 0-10 teams. They have to win this. Which, of course, to many of you, means that they will lose this.
I, for one, think they will win pretty handily, or at least they should. The third time is the charm when it comes to going up against rookie quarterbacks this season. They have already lost to two rookies, but not a Browns rookie. Pittsburgh beat Colt McCoy 28-10 and then 41-9 in his rookie year. Although they did lose to Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson with Charlie Batch at quarterback…
Anyway, yes, the Steelers should win this game. The Browns are not a good team at all, and they have one of the worst rushing defenses in the league. Pittsburgh should be able to ride a balanced offense to an easy day on the scoring end of things.
Meanwhile, Cleveland has never even scored 30 points once this season. They have scored at least 25 points only twice, and reached 20 points—twice right on the nose—only five times in 10 games. There is no reason the Steelers should lose this game, and certainly no excuse.
Not even with the loss of Cameron Heyward on defense, a blow the Steelers have already been able to dip their toes into since he missed two games earlier in the year. It will be an adjustment, but they are certainly able to beat a team like Cleveland without him.
The one thing they will have to make sure to do is to bottle up Cleveland’s wide receivers, as well as their tight end, because they do have three skill position players who can make things happen after the catch. As long as the secondary gets the pass catchers down, they should be fine.
Cleveland’s running game, meanwhile, has gone hot and cold, but more of the latter than the former. They have been outrushed in almost every game this year, and Le’Veon Bell should certainly handle that job today.
Defensively, they do have some interesting young pieces, particularly in the front seven, and the addition of Jamie Collins provides an added intensity and potency. The Steelers have already played him this year with the Patriots, however, and they handled him pretty well.
I think this will be a game that presents Eli Rogers with a big opportunity to make some plays. The tight end position—whether it’s Ladarius Green or Jesse James, if not both—will be involved a lot as well. And Antonio Brown has almost always had Joe Haden’s number.
For all his limitations, Cody Kessler is an accurate passer. The Steelers have upped their blitzing in recent weeks, and I expect that to stay up against the rookie in order to try to disrupt his timing. The Browns’ offensive line, even when not in pieces, has been a liability this year.