Steelers Vs. Browns Prediction

As we’ve done in the past, below are the keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers winning (or losing) today’s game. Three things that need to happen for them to end up on the right side of the score and vice versa in tonight’s Week Two showdown against the Cleveland Browns.

My prediction is at the bottom.


1. The Offense Finds And Sustains A Rhythm

This is something the Steelers’ offense obviously failed to do in Week One against San Francisco. That means staying on schedule and being able to use the entire call sheet instead of the sliver they had last Sunday. Nine rushing attempts won’t win you games. Of course, neither will falling behind 20-0. Do that against this tough Browns defensive line that looks better than ever, and it’ll be (another) long game.

The winner tonight will be the team that sets and controls the tone. It better be Pittsburgh.

2. D-Line, Linebackers Get Off Blocks

An obvious issue against Christian McCaffrey and company. While the defensive line individually didn’t play terribly, the collective results were poor. DeMarvin Leal can win 1v1 but struggles to anchor on double-teams and can get washed. Pittsburgh’s inside linebackers must fit and fill against the run better than they do. Cleveland runs plenty of gap and zone with a strong offensive line. The Steelers have to be gap sound, yes, but they also have to produce more splash. Or else the Browns will roll four yards at a time.

3. Team Lets Minkah Be Minkah

I’m not going to say Minkah Fitzpatrick’s heavy box usage against San Fran is the reason why Pittsburgh got its doors blown off. It’s not. But I still don’t like how much he was used near the line of scrimmage. Some of that was for run game, some of that was to deal with TE George Kittle, but the Steelers just don’t play well when he’s not used in his traditional post-safety spot. There’s plenty of history that supports that: his time in Miami, 2021 against the Raiders, and yesterday.

Pittsburgh will load up the box to handle the Browns’ run game, but Fitzpatrick should play his usual role. That’s the best chance for team success.

The Steelers Will Lose If…

1. The Receivers Can’t Separate (And The Scheme Can’t Create It)

The Browns’ “Big Three” of Denzel Ward, Martin Emerson Jr., and Greg Newsome II put the clamps on the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense last week. Granted, a heavy rain played a factor but Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and company have never been so held in check. Mike Tomlin credited the Browns corners for being central to the team’s win.

Without Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh’s top route runner, the other receivers will have to create that space. George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, and Allen Robinson II will have to make themselves open. It’d help if OC Matt Canada could aid in that with stacks and bunches to create free releases and back those corners up. Personnel and coaching have to overcome Pittsburgh’s disadvantage here.

2. Deshaun Watson Isn’t Contained

A mobile quarterback with desire to run, he showed his legs early and often against the Bengals. He scrambled on the team’s first two passing third downs of the game and the Browns dialed up quarterback power out of empty for a Watson touchdown to finish off a drive. Rush lane integrity will be key here, especially if the Steelers play more man coverage than they did in Week One. These guys will want to get after Watson, and they’ll likely have some measure of success, but they must also rush smart.

3. Pittsburgh Loses The Field Position Battle

As we wrote about yesterday with P Pressley Harvin III, field position will be key if the Steelers want to win. But field position is defined by more than a punter or any one player. The coverage units have to be strong, the kick and punt returners will need to make splash, Pittsburgh has to gain a winning edge on special teams. Because they come into this game with the weaker-looking offense and defense. They’ll have to make that up somewhere.


Browns: 24
Steelers: 14

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