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Friday, September 05, 2014

Who I like, Cleveland version 1.0

First, let's take care of the injuries for the Steelers.

Wide receiver Lance Moore is out with his groin injury, as is cornerback Brice McCain. With Moore, this is likely a precautionary thing more than anything.

He's been running during practice, so with the short work week coming with the next game Thursday night against Baltimore, the Steelers likely don't want to push things.

They would rather have his services against Baltimore.

Rookie Martavis Bryant is doubtful with his shoulder injury.

With those guys out, look for Justin Brown and Dri Archer to play more prominent roles.

It will be interesting to see how the Browns attack the Steelers' passing game. Last year, they shadowed Antonio Brown with Joe Haden, but that didn't work out so well as Brown had 15 receptions for 179 yards and a touchdown in the two meetings.

But with so many new receivers for the Steelers this season, Cleveland could choose to double Brown, even with Haden on him, and make somebody else win their battle.

As I noted in my story in Friday's Observer-Reporter, new Cleveland head coach Mike Pettine has been on the sideline 12 times against Ben Roethlisberger between his time with the Ravens, Jets and Bills. Roethlisberger has won nine of those matchups, but his passer rating is nearly 10 points lower than his career mark when facing a Pettine-coached defense.

The big thing has been sacks. Pettine-coached defense have 41 sacks against Roethlisberger in those 12 meetings, though nine came in one game against the Ravens in 2006. Still, Pettine's Buffalo defense got to Roethlisberger four times last season.

Offensively, the Browns figure to try a trick play or two in an attempt to make something happen. That could include Johnny Manziel in some form or fashion.

If the Steelers can keep Roethlisberger upright and shut down Cleveland's trick plays, they should come away with a relatively easy win in this one.

They are 6 1/2-point favorites and I like them to come away with a 27-13 victory.


Lance Williams said...

Turnovers. I think they need turnovers to win by that margin. If not, they win but it will be ugly.

marc said...

brown's defense is pretty good and I actually think they match up well against the steelers, especially with moore out and the steelers having to rely on brown/archer.

offensively, brown's o-line is decent and their RB's are much upgraded over last year. the steelers should be able to stop the run, but we will see.

the difference will be hoyer. he typically knows where to go with the ball, but lacks in accuracy/consistency. if the steelers DB's play off the ball, hoyer will have time to pick the zone apart. it will all come down to whether he hits his target or not.

I actually think this will be closer than most think, but the steelers should come away with a win. 17-13.

Dale Lolley said...

Well, they beat them twice last year by similar margins without a ton of turnovers. And Cleveland's offense should actually be worse with Gordon.

The Steelers offense will score on this defense.

James II said...

The Browns have an offensive line that can be dominant. They're not the Broncos but they're right up there in both pass and run blocking. Almost any QB and RB can have good days with a line like that.

Their defense has a couple holes that can be exposed but I like our offensive line also. You can easily make an argument that our pass blocking is going to be top 10 in the NFL this year. Our run blocking will probably be middle of the pack at best.

The Browns are still going to be the Browns but I see them being better than people think. Of course the Steelers will win this one.

George Siegel said...

James II, they looked pretty good run blocking against the Browns week 17 of last year. Bell had 90 yards on 20 carries for 4.5 average. Steelers had 120 total in 29 carries.

I agree with you that the Browns will be better than people think, but I also think that Pittsburgh's offensive line will be better than people think.

James II said...

Yeah our run game was on in that game and that was with Cody Wallace. We picked on Ahtyba Rubin and D'Qwell Jackson. Jackson's with the Colts now.

Who knows maybe Mike Munchak can make us even better than I project our line to be. Let's just hope for some continuity.

Anonymous Brian said...

Steelers - 19 Browns - 13

(Wanted 17-13 but already taken, so I'll throw in a freak-play safety for the good guys.)

Anonymous said...

I think we need to temper our expectations with Munchak. The Titans running game was average during his entire tenure as their head coach.

Dale Lolley said...

I think average would be an upgrade, would it not?

Anonymous said...

that contract is ridiculous we could have kept keenan lewis for cheaper and he is a much better corner

Patrick said...

I'll go steelers 20-13 with the browns making it an annoying nail biter I. The final drive