The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will defeat the Browns and retain sole control over first place of the AFC North.
Explanation: Today marks arguably the most significant matchup between the Steelers and the Browns since they faced off in the postseason in 2003, which is significant considering this is just week six. Both teams have winning percentages of .800 or better and are vying for control over the AFC North in what is the tightest division in the NFL that isn’t filled with terrible teams (*cough* NFC East *cough*).
Buy: While the Browns offense has been churning out points and the defense has been turning the ball over, their running game is still without Nick Chubb, their best runner, against whom the Steelers have played well anyway. Chubb has never scored a rushing touchdown in four games against the Steelers, nor had a 100-yard game. The only time he rushed for at least 4 yards per attempt was as a rookie when he had only three attempts in the first game of his career.
Kareem Hunt is a talented runner too, but the Steelers can handle him as they handled Chubb. The game will be in Baker Mayfield’s hands, and, while already nursing a rib injury that will affect his mobility, the Steelers’ pass rush will be getting him on the move and forcing errors.
Offensively, the Steelers have not been turning the ball over, just four giveaways all season, so that is not a big concern. Terrance Mitchell in the secondary is a juicy matchup for any of the Steelers’ receivers who lines up across from him.
The Steelers may not be turning the ball over yet, but they haven’t faced defenses who turn the ball over. The Browns lead the league in takeaways. Myles Garrett alone has three strip sacks and has recovered two fumbles himself. He will be getting to Ben Roethlisberger.
Meanwhile, the Browns’ passing game is coming along, and that includes all skill positions, with Hunt one of the most underrated receiving backs in the NFL. the Steelers’ pass coverage has frankly left something to be desired this year, and that will be no different today. That will prove the difference in their first loss of the season.