The Pittsburgh Steelers will not have a lot of time to digest their big victory over the Los Angeles Rams as they will have to pack their bags and get ready for a midweek trip to Cleveland. With the Cleveland Browns waiting for their arrival, the Steelers will look to hopefully make this a short and easy business trip. The Browns are just 3-6 and a victory on Thursday will not only sink Cleveland to obscurity but it will also help propel the Steelers further into the AFC playoff race. As usual, here are all the statistics that may play a factor in the outcome of this Thursday night matchup.
4 – Last week, the Pittsburgh crowd got to see Aaron Donald and Cameron Heyward on the same field and viewers are in for a similar treat this week as Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt will go head to head. The two pass rushers are neck and neck in the AFC are Garrett leads the conference in sacks with 10 while Watt is right behind him with 9.5 sacks. Both pass rushers have also had a lot of success against the other’s team. Garrett has recorded four sacks and three forced fumbles in three games against the Steelers while Watt has recorded seven sacks and an interception in four games against the Browns.
46.7 – Thursday night will see two of the NFL’s worst red zone teams go head to head. Both the Steelers and Browns have struggled in the red zone this season with them ranking 28th and 26th respectfully. The Steelers come in with a red zone success rate of 39.1-percent though the Browns have not been much better at 46.7-percent. The Browns have struggled to finish drives recently and that may not bode well for them against a Steelers defense that ranks 9th in red zone defense this season.
68.8 – This defense has undergone a total makeover since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick as they have turned into one of the stingiest secondaries in the NFL. Since acquiring Fitzpatrick in week three, quarterbacks have a passer rating of 68.8 against the Steelers defense, which is third best in the NFL with only the Patriots and 49ers allowing a lower passer rating. With a completion percentage of just 61.7-percent and 14 interceptions, quarterbacks have had a tough time beating this secondary. Next up on the defense’s hit list is Baker Mayfield, a quarterback that has thrown more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (9) this season.
123.9 – If there has been one redeeming aspect of the Browns’ offense this season it is definitely their running game. Led by Nick Chubb, the Browns are averaging 123.9 rushing yards per game this season and have rushed for over 100 yards in five of their last six games. Chubb has rushed for over 900 yards this season and with Kareem Hunt now also back off of a suspension, these two may cause fits for a Steelers’ run defense that ranks 16th in the NFL. The easiest solution is to take the football out of Chubbs’ hands and the Steelers can do that by taking a comfortable lead and forcing the Browns to pass.
404 – James Conner is back and just in the nick of time to run through a team that he ran quite well against last season. In two matchups against the Browns last season, Conner recorded 404 yards from scrimmage as he rushed for 281 yards and added another 123 receiving yards. The Steelers are desperate to get their running game going as Jaylen Samuels averaged just 1.8 yards per carry in Conner’s absence. Returning from a two-game layoff, Conner’s presence should also help take some of the load off of Mason Rudolph’s shoulders.