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Friday, November 22, 2013

Who I like, Cleveland version part I

The Steelers and Browns both find themselves on the cusp of being in the middle of they playoff race with both teams holding 4-6 records heading into Sunday's game.

Only the two teams appear to be heading in different directions.

After an 0-4 start, the Steelers have won four of their past six to get to 4-6. The Browns, meanwhile, started 3-2, but have lost four of five since.

The Steelers will likely be without linebacker LaMarr Woodley and defensive end Brett Keisel again for this one after both sat out - along with guard Ramon Foster - in last week's win over Detroit.

Woodley and Keisel were both limited in practice Friday, so there's a chance both could play, but with a short week coming up with a game against Baltimore next Thursday, the Steelers might be better off allowing both to sit on Sunday with an eye on returning against the Ravens.

Not that either game is less important than the other.

The Steelers need wins in these two games to stay alive in the AFC playoff race. A loss in either would be a killer since it would not only be a division loss, but one within the conference as well.

The Steelers are currently 3-4 in the conference with five conference games remaining. If they win their five remaining conference games, they'll make the playoffs. A loss in one of those games, even coupled with a win at Green Bay, would make things tough.

But know this, no AFC North team has won a divisional game on the road this season. Even Cleveland is 2-0 at home after beating both Cincinnati and Baltimore.

But the Browns have also never beaten the Steelers and Ravens in the same season. And the Steelers are 23-5 against Cleveland since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, with Tim Couch owning three of those wins. And he hasn't quarterbacked the Browns in 10 years.

The Browns did earn a split with the Steelers in 2012, thanks to an eight-turnover game by Pittsburgh in Cleveland last season. And even with the eight turnovers, the Browns only won that game, 20-14.

Add in the fact that Ben Roethlisberger owns a 15-1 record in games started against Cleveland, and you can see why this is the first time the Browns have been favored in a game against the Steelers since 2003, the year before Roethlisberger arrived.

The line opened with the Steelers getting two points, but that has since dropped to one. I expect by the time the game starts, it will be a pick 'em game or the Steelers might even be favored by a point.

Either way, I'm taking Pittsburgh to win, 20-13.


Anonymous said...

Need A. Brown AKA Sideswipe to have another monster game..

I don't think we will gain over 70 yards on the ground and it's going to be one of those games that either team will have much yardage...


Anonymous said...


Any thoughts on Ray Horton? Wasn't he with the Steelers a while back? I'm guessing that he might come up with a game plan that will keep the game closer than most think. Granted, the players have to execute the plan.

mv7267 said...

To quote Admiral Ackbar..."It's a trap!" Bad opponent between two must wins, Detroit & Baltimore. First series on offense needs to end in 7 points either after or before a forced 3 & out. The Steelers can not allow this team to hang around. Put them to sleep and keep the game off of NFL Red Zone expect for Steeler scores.

Also, they need to score TDs not FGs this week again.

I want 34-10 but 16-13 will probably be more realistic.

Dale Lolley said...

They are all must wins right now for the Steelers. None of them are more must-win than the others. Hence there cannot be a trap.

As for the 70 yards rushing, the Steelers would be glad to have that. They have had less than that in most of their games, yet have averaged 350 yards per game.

I look for a lot out of Heath Miller. Browns have given up 6 TDs to opposing tight ends.

Dale Lolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve-O said...

As I look at this game, Kiesel and Woodley should be evaluated on their ability to contribute to a win this week. If they can play above the level of their backups then you play them (even if you risk losing them to the short week against Baltimore). The most important game this season is the one that's about to be played. You sell out to that week in and week out and maybe (just maybe) you make the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

Keisel and Woodley both got big performances from their replacements. If they aren't 100%, they won't be helping anybody.

Anonymous Brian said...

I'll go totally negative / reverse psychology --

Browns - 10 Steelers - 3

(But then win 3 in a row)

Anonymous said...

With the weather conditions for tomorrow, you may be right Brian. At a minimum, it may slow down the offenses significantly.

Patrick said...

I literally might cry if the Steelers have a huge let down like last year's Cleveland game and this year's Oak game.

That said, maybe Cleveland gives them a legitimately hard fought game with their D. But I don't see it. I think the Steelers offense is finally starting to come together and though the D has been streaky, Josh Gordon is no Calvin Johnson.

I would love to see Dwyer get more of a chance since he seems to be gaining yards every time he touches the ball and Bell hasn't been able to do much with the way the line run blocks.

I think the Steelers roll in this game, 23-10 with Sanders or Brown taking a kick back or setting the offense up with an easy TD that puts the game out of reach.