What was once one of the best rivalries in the NFL has become just another game on the schedule. Since 1999, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 29-6 against the Cleveland Browns and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 19-2 against the team he thought was going to draft him in 2004.
The Browns (0-10) are trying to snap a franchise record thirteen game losing streak and also trying to avoid the dreaded 0-16 mark for the season.
Meanwhile, the Steelers (4-5) have been up and down all season while dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball but still only sit one game behind Baltimore in the AFC North.
Throw in the fact that today’s game will be played with the potential of snow and 40 mph wind gusts, it’ll be a very interesting game to watch.
Matchup to watch
Le’Veon Bell vs Browns run defense
He missed the first two games due to suspension but Bell has picked up where he left off. He’s got 433 yards on the ground and 360 yards through the air, making him a dangerous threat out of the backfield.
The Cleveland Browns run defense, while it looks improved under defensive coordinator Ray Horton is still 31st in the league in stopping the run.
Danny Shelton and Christian Kirksey have been the leaders on defense and have significantly improved as NFL players. Throw in Jamie Collins and your nucleus is building on that side of the ball.
If the Browns want to break their winless streak, they’ll have to find a way to stop Bell and force the Steelers to throw in the windy conditions.
Keys to the Game
Get the Run Game Going
We all know Cody Kessler’s arm strength isn’t the greatest and the strong winds expected today isn’t going to help his cause.
There’s only one thing left to do on the offensive side, run the ball. It’s been non existent for the last month and hasn’t put Kessler in a good situation to succeed.
There’s a potential gleam today against the Steelers.
Now while they’re 16th in the league against the run, Pittsburgh just lost Cam Heyward for the remainder of the season. That’s a huge loss for the defense that’s already been suffering injuries.
Hue Jackson needs to attack that weakness and feed Crowell and Johnson to keep Kessler comfortable in the offense.
In one of the Browns six wins against Pittsburgh since 1999, one of the reasons for winning was getting after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
In the classic 2009 13-6 win, the Browns defense got after Roethlisberger eight times in the frigid temperatures to help knock Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.
Ray Horton’s defense has always been known as an “attack” style and for getting after the quarterback. The Browns only have 16 sacks to show for this season which could be expected with a lot of rookies on that side.
Roethlisberger has only been sacked 14 times this season which shows his offensive line is keeping him up for the most part and they’ll be a tough matchup for the young defense.
We drafted Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib high in the draft for a reason, because they got after the quarterback in college. They only have a combined 5 sacks this season, it’s time they show the organization and fanbase why we can depend on them for the future.
Steelers 24 Browns 10
I think the weather will play a factor today for both teams. I expect both teams to run the ball a lot but I can see Roethlisberger making some big throws because he has the arm strength to do so.
Kessler’s lack of arm strength will show significantly today with the strong winds at FirstEnergy stadium and I think the defense will struggle to stop the skill players Pittsburgh has in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.