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Steelers Vs Browns: 5 Keys To Victory In Week 18

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their seventeenth and final game of the 2022 regular season on Sunday afternoon and at will be at home against the Cleveland Browns. They’ll enter that contest listed as a slight favorite as well. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do at home Sunday afternoon to come away with their ninth win of the 2022 season and to perhaps even land themselves a playoff spot.

Don’t Get Nick-ed Up – The Browns are going to want to run the football on offense early and often against the Steelers. That means we can probably expect to see a lot of carries for running back Nick Chubb, who had 113 yards rushing on his 23 carries in the Browns’ Week 3 home game win against the Steelers. Chubb had a 36-yard run in the first quarter of that game that led to the Browns’ first touchdown of the contest. Chubb enters Week 18 as the NFL leader this season in explosive runs of 20 yards or longer with 13. The Steelers defense can’t allow any of those on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium. The Browns are 1-7 this season when Chubb rushes for less than 99 yards and they are 6-2 when he hits the 99 or more on the ground.

Myles Of Protection – The Steelers will not need to worry about Browns edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney on Sunday thanks to him talking himself into a Week 18 benching a few days ago. That now leaves the Steelers the opportunity to focus all their efforts on defending against Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who enters Week 18 with 15 sacks on the season, fourth-most in the NFL. Back in Week 3 when the Steelers played the Browns, Cleveland did not have Clowney due to injury. The Steelers offense then proceeded to limit Garrett to just two assisted tackles and one quarterback hit in that contest. The offense did that by making sure to chip Garrett as frequently as they could in that game. Additionally, Steelers tackles Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor held their own against Garrett, respectively. On Sunday, Garrett will be the Browns best defensive player that the Steelers must contend with. If they can limit him to a Week 3-like performance on Sunday, that would go a long way in helping the team win the game.

Hudson Hawk – The Browns won’t have starting right tackle Jack Conklin on Sunday as he’s been ruled out for the Week 18 contest due to an ankle injury. That means that James Hudson will start at right tackle for the Browns and that sets up a huge mismatch for him against Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt. In the Steelers week 17 game against the Browns las season, Hudson started in place of Conklin. Watt had four sacks in that game Hudson gave up three total sacks to Watt in the game, one quarterback hit and one QB hurry for five total pressures. Watt had an MVP-like performance in that game and there’s no reason to think that he won’t have another strong showing on Sunday against Hudson. Watt is a game-wrecker and because of that, he could really turn the tide on Sunday with one play. The Steelers will likely need him to do just that with Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson now leading their offense.

Left Turn At Acrisure – The Browns’ run defense hasn’t been great all season and especially in the team’s last eight games. On runs to the right side of the Browns’ defense, which would be to the left on offense, teams are averaging 6.3 yards per carry in the last eight games played. That ranks the Browns’ run defense 31st overall based on those specifications. The Steelers, by the way, have averaged 5.4 per carry to the left side in their last eight games and that’s fourth-best in the NFL. So, there you have it, the Steelers should be running left of center quite a bit on Sunday and they should be expected to run well to that side at that. The better the Steelers offense can run on Sunday, the better the chance the team has to win. In Week 3, the Steelers’ offense had 19 combined runs by running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren for 86 yards. Ideally, Sunday’s game will finish with those two having at least 25 combined rushes for at least 140 yards.

No Pickett Picks – After throwing eight interceptions in his first in his first 165 pass attempts in the NFL, Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett has been picked off just once in his last 195 pass attempts. That’s a big reason why the Steelers have managed to go 5-2 in the seven games that Pickett has started since the team’s bye in Week 9. Against the Browns in Week 3, the Steelers didn’t turn the football over until the final play of the game, which was a last-ditch effort that included laterals. The Browns score on that play to make the game look a lot more lopsided. Since Watson returned from his suspension for the Browns, the team has scored 34 of their 84 total points off of turnovers. The Browns also have 19 total takeaways on the season and 11 have come since Watson returned from his suspension. That’s a big reason why they have managed to massage three wins out of their last five games.

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