The Cleveland Browns will be without at least two more starters on Sunday when they pay a visit to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in what figures to be the most pivotal AFC North matchup of the first half of the 2020 season. Both teams have four wins, with the Browns’ only loss coming to the Baltimore Ravens, and the Steelers already having had their bye week.
While he may not be a household name, the loss of Wyatt Teller at right guard, whom head coach Kevin Stefanski described as being more week to week than day to day, is a significant blow as a player who has been instrumental in the Browns run-blocking for a league-leading unit.
Coming into Sunday’s game, Cleveland has compiled 942 yards on the ground over five weeks with eight rushing touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. They have hardly missed a beat since Nick Chubb suffered an injury that has him sidelined as well.
That’s because their backup his Kareem Hunt, a Pro Bowler in his own right, who is averaging five yards per carry with 347 yards on the ground and another 63 yards through the air, with six total touchdowns (three rushing, three receiving).
The line has been pretty good in the passing game, too. Baker Mayfield has only taken seven sacks in five games this season. Chris Hubbard will be called upon to start in his place at right guard, after having previously stepped in at right tackle for Jack Conklin.
Another significant absence is Greedy Williams, the team’s second-year cornerback, who was placed on injured reserve yesterday. While he is not expected to need surgery for a nerve issue in his shoulder, he will miss time, even if he has a chance to be back this year.
Williams had not even taken the field yet this season, it should be noted, after suffering an injury in training camp. They are also dealing with safety Ronnie Harrison going through the concussion protocol, just after taking over the starting job for Karl Joseph, who was inactive for Sunday’s game.
Mike Tomlin has never lost to the Browns at home, but this will be the toughest Browns team that he has ever faced. The last time they have won more than seven games in a season was in 2007, and they have only won more than five games four times in that time.
This is not an opponent to be taken lightly, particularly with how the Steelers’ defense has performed lately. The Browns are averaging 31.2 points per game on offense, and that is after putting up just six points in the season opener.
Ben Roethlisberger and company will have to match them, as the defense is giving up nearly 30 points per game as well. The Steelers offense is averaging around 30 points per game through four games, but that was against some pretty bad defenses as well.