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Friday, November 23, 2012

Who I like, Cleveland version

The Steelers are a desperate team heading into Cleveland this weekend.

Coming off a loss last week to Baltimore, the Steelers currently stand two games behind the Ravens in the AFC North race and one game ahead of Cincinnati for a wild card spot.

A stumble this week in Cleveland would be a killer, especially with a rematch against the Ravens in Baltimore looming next week.

The Steelers will again be without Ben Roethlisberger, who is getting closer to a return from his sprained shoulder and separated rib. In fact, there is an outside chance Roethlisberger could be back next week.

If that is the case, this could be the final game of Charlie Batch's career. Batch knows that and I expect him to play accordingly.

The Steelers are 5-2 over the years when Batch starts and he'll give them his best effort again Sunday.

Cleveland's offense revolves around running back Trent Richardson, just as Baltimore's does around Ray Rice. Both are not only their team's leading rusher, but leading receiver as well.

The Steelers shut down Rice last week, limiting him to 40 yards on 20 carries.

And then there's these two tidbits: Since inserting Will Allen into the starting lineup six games ago, the Steelers are allowing 16.6 points per game, down from 22.2 in the four games he didn't start. Also, the Steelers are 14-1 with Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator against rookie quarterbacks.

Those will all play a factor in this one.

I like the Steelers to win 16-13


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Ziggy will be back. I'm afraid of the Browns running the stretch play at him over and over.

Steve-O said...

Ziggy is listed as "Out".

Anonymous said...

Where is he listed out? I read Ziggy participated fully on Friday.

Dale Lolley said...

Ziggy is probable to play

Anonymous said...

1st and 10 at CLE 20 - T.Richardson right tackle to CLE 26 for 6 yards (L.Foote).

2nd and 4 at CLE 26 - T.Richardson right tackle to CLE 31 for 5 yards (R.Clark).

1st and 10 at CLE 31 - T.Richardson right tackle to CLE 38 for 7 yards (L.Timmons).


Patrick said...

16-13 sounds like we are starting to recgonize they play down to the competition.

The Browns aren't as bad as their record, but they aren't very good either. Steelers turn the ball over more than the Browns and they will lose.

I don't see it happening though and think Weeden will throw multiple picks.

Steelers 20-10

kyle said...

Or 16-13 recognizes that the Steelers will be playing with their 3rd string QB and without half of their receiving corps.

Oh, and I had a free half hour last weekend so I put this together:

Between 2001 and 2006 Bill Cowher's Steelers had 32 regular season losses, 16 of them to teams that did not make the playoffs, or 50%.

Between 2007 and 2011 Mike Tomlin's Steelers had 25 regular season losses, 8 of them to teams that did not make the playoffs, or 32%. If you include this season so far and assume that Denver and Baltimore will make the playoffs and Oakland and Tennessee (though still mathematically alive) will not it goes up to 34%.

I think it's worth noting that in the three 12-4 seasons under Tomlin they did not lose a single game to a non-playoff team.

Anonymous said...

Tomlin has a franchise QB and had one from day one on the job. That will give alot of coaches good records.

Not saying Tomlin is bad. But his job is easier than Cowher's. Few coaches can put together consistent winners with mediocre QB play like Cowher did.

kyle said...

I chose the last six seasons for Cowher both to make the number of seasons even and because half of those years he had Ben. Also, 2001, without Ben obviously, the Steelers went 13-3.

Patrick said...

damnit anonymous, Tomlin having Ben was my big rebuttal.

Kyle, I'll respond tomorrow. For now I just say that it is a fair analysis, but my suggestion that Tomlin's team plays down to competition includes games the team has won by slim margins to bad teams. Obviously yours doesn't but that doesn't mean your argument isn't valid.

Steve-O said...

My mistake earlier, I misread the injury report in the Post Gazette and incorrectly stated Ziggy was out.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those who wanted to replace Will Allen with some one younger.
Though the Steelers need to get younger at safety.I was wrong about Allen.
Allen has sure out played the Younger Mundy.

Anonymous said...

That's ok. The coaches apparently were wrong about Allen too.

And some of you must have very short memories. Cowher played almost every game tight. You don't get that 111-1-1 record when leading by 11 by putting away the cupcakes.

And a franchise QB never seemed to be something of high interest to Cowher. Didn't seem particularly interested in ever acquiring one, and might never have had one if Rooney hadn't intervened. Cowher had more of a hand in not having a franchise QB than finally getting one.

I'm not glad he's gone. But I don't miss him either.

Dale Lolley said...

That's good stuff, Kyle. Thanks for the info.

And yes, the predicted score takes into consideration the Steelers are playing their third-string QB.

It also takes into account the two scores of these games last year, 14-3 and 13-9.

And anyone who thinks this Cleveland team - which is averaging 94 yards per game - is going to run all over the Steelers is on some kind of funky drugs.

marc said...

living in cleveland, i get a heavy dose of the browns. their d-line is actually pretty good and able to get pressure on the QB without blitzing. they're struggling in the secondary with injuries, but joe hayden is the real deal, if he plays.

their offense is trent richardson, and that's it. weeden is not as good as advertised on draft day. the WR's are physically talented, but that's it.

the steelers should have no issues holding the browns offense in check. if the steelers score more than 14 points they should win.

Patrick said...

Your analysis is a fair point Kyle, but if those loses came to non-playoff teams that were 9-7, 8-8 then it doesn't really disprove what I'm saying.

I'm also saying the team plays down in ugly wins. Just because they won, doesn't mean they didn't play poorly against inferior competition. Tomlin has a ton of ugly wins on his resume. You might say Cowher had ugly wins too, but his teams were different, as someone said. Often his wins were building 10 point leads, killing the clock and seeing if the other team came back.

I'd rather have that than what I'm watching on TV right now. Its 10-7 Cleveland because of fumbles.

I also don't think its apples to apples because of Ben. (Maybe even Troy too, who did nothing in 2003)

Patrick said...

you need to recalculate your math fyi. The % just went up.

kyle said...

This game would make it 36.6%

And Cowher gets credit for losing to an 8-8 team but Tomlin doesn't for beating one? Neat.

What do you do the first game of the season before anyone has a losing record? How do you know if it was a "bad win" or not? Last year's schedule? Power rankings?

This was a bad game but I think we have different criteria for "playing down." The defense played very well. The Steelers defense had as many touchdowns as either offense. The running backs were allergic to the ball.

And so you don't think Tomlin gets a pass for a loss...I think there are a couple valid criticisms from this game. First, is for Tomlin and the personnel department for going into a season with a 37 year old backup who has a dead arm. And the other is for running designed check downs when you should have had some idea that lots of emergency check downs would be necessary.

P.S. Will you admit that putting Charlie in last week would not have been a good idea?

Patrick said...

"And Cowher gets credit for losing to an 8-8 team but Tomlin doesn't for beating one? Neat."

Where did you infer that from? I didn't say it so you twisted it somehow. Your loses to "nonplayoff" teams doesn't mean much to me. We all know there are teams that don't make the playoffs that aren't too bad. The 2012 Steelers are probably going to be one.

If you look at my post where I listed the bad games under Tomlin to inferior competition, I listed one L to an 8-8 team. So you are making things up when you say stuff like above.

And yes I agree I was wrong about Batch. Incredibly wrong. But if you want to say that Tomlin stuck with broken ribs Leftwich because he knew Batch is that bad, then why the F is Batch on the team? And thats allllllll on Tomlin. He has to be able to evaluate a QB and let them go if they are not able to fill in. Theres no way Batch's "locker room presence" overcomes his inability to hit wide open players 6 yards downfield.

Maybe Hoyer will show them something, but they need to get a backup that isn't named Lefwich or Batch.

kyle said...

I mentioned the losses to 8-8 teams because of your comment, "if those loses came to non-playoff teams that were 9-7, 8-8 then it doesn't really disprove what I'm saying." I guess I just don't see the huge difference between a 7-9 team and a 6-10 team.

I didn't look at those numbers for my own edification and really I didn't do it for you either, there are lots of people who complain that Tomlin teams "play down" to competition. I don't care about that at all. I looked at the numbers to see if there is any evidence to support that claim.

I'll say this again, I take no solace in losing a close game to a "good" team. And I don't get upset at winning a close game to a "bad" team. My opinion is based on the fact that this is not college football and you don't need "impressive" wins to play for a championship. Every team in the NFL is capable of winning a game against every other team. Are the 0-16 Lions the worst team in history? I watched a few of their games that year. They weren't awful. They lost some tough games. A few plays here and there and they would have won a few. Would they have gone to the playoffs? Nope. But were they worse than the 1-15 Dolphins (who also lost some close games)? I can't say they definitely were.

Having Batch on the roster isn't "alllll" on Tomlin. He does not make unilateral personnel decisions. Why do you think Cowher isn't coaching? Because he wants total control. He wasn't to be GM and Head Coach. I give Tomlin some blame for Batch being on the team because I have a feeling that Colbert and Khan didn't overrule him about it.

One more thing, so we don't completely hijack a comments thread again, do the Ravens play down to competition? The Steelers lost to the now 3-8 Browns and the Ravens are doing their best to lose to the 4-6 (5-6 if they win) Chargers.

Patrick said...

The Chargers are not the Chiefs, Browns, Titans or Raiders. They are clearly more talented than all of those teams. Maybe they are poorly coached but they are more talented than the bad teams the Steelers have lost to. I'm surprised you even mentioned them.

But I don't know we are talking about the Ravens problems. I don't cheer for them.

And Batch's roster spot is all on Tomlin if he feels he is so bad that he can't come in for a guy who is clearly hurt. If the coach thinks hes that bad he has to tell the front office so. I can't imagine Tomlin saying hey Batch is so bad I won't put him in a game and then say "nah lets keep him".

Whatever the case on why Batch is still on the team - whatever dynamics are at play there - he has to go. I can't believe how dead his arm is.

Patrick said...

and to the Chargers record, 5-6 isn't a horrible record.

kyle said...

The Chiefs have a ton of talent. They won their division more recently than the Chargers. What those teams have in common is terrible head coaches. How Romeo kept that job I have no idea. Nobody from the Belichick tree has been successful. But to the Chargers and Browns, 5-6 is a gigantic improvement over 3-8? It seems like 2 games to me. And I brought up the Ravens because every team plays/loses to teams with worse records. The Broncos seem to be pretty good and they trailed the Chiefs most of today and ended up winning. That's what I'm saying. No team wins every game they're "supposed" to win. No team demolishes every team they're "supposed" to demolish. The goal is making the playoffs and winning a championship. Everything else is a statistic.

Patrick said...

ok and I say the Steelers play down more often.

I disagree about the talent level of the Chiefs. Maybe their D is "promising" but they aren't very good. I don't care to argue about the Chiefs roster though