I’m watching because it’s the last Browns game, it’s the Steelers, there’s a chance to knock Pittsburgh out of the playoffs and to give Mike Tomlin his first losing season. Is that asking for too much? Last week Cleveland beat Washington 24-10 and Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 16-13. This week the Browns travel to Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh for a 1:00 pm (EST). What am I watching?
Browns Offense Vs. Steelers Defense. Pittsburgh’s defense is currently ranked 14th in the league allowing 332 total yards, 225 yards passing, 107 yards rushing and 20.8 points a game. The Steelers are led in tackles by linebacker Myles Jack (100), in sacks by linebacker Alex Highsmith (12) and in interceptions by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (6). Pittsburgh’s defense is in the bottom 10 in the NFL in sacks, has given up 27 receiving touchdowns (28th) and is allowing 6.6 net yards per pass attempt (28th). However, in the last five games they’ve allowed 13,10,16,16 and 16 points respectively. But that effort came against teams like Atlanta, Baltimore (twice), Carolina and Las Vegas, teams with weaker quarterbacks. I’m going to be watching to see if the Browns offensive line can hold their blocks and give Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson time to not only throw the ball, but also to evade the sack. The Browns will need to move Watson out of the pocket to pass and to run. Since week eight, if the Browns have over 140 yards rushing as a team, they’re 5-0. Runing Nick Chubb and Watson should free up the passing game against an average Steelers secondary. Both wide receivers Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones have favorable matchups. Tackles James Hudson and Jedrick Wills will have to slow down linebackers T.J. Watt and Highsmith. Pittsburgh is 7-2 when Watt plays.
Browns Defense Vs. Steelers Offense. Pittsburgh’s offense is currently ranked 23rd in the league averaging 322 total yards, 201 yards passing, 121 yards rushing and 17.5 points per game. Quarterback Kenny Pickett controls the Steelers offense. For the season he’s 232 of 360, for 2209 yards, six touchdowns, nine interceptions and a QBR of 76.5. He’s been sacked 26 times. The Steelers are led in rushing by Najee Harris (954 yards, six touchdowns) and in receiving by wide receiver Diontae Johnson (844 yards, zero touchdowns). Pittsburgh will try and run the ball and run the ball and run the ball. With the absence of Jadeveon Clowney, linebacker Reggie Ragland, safety Grant Delpit and defensive tackles Jordan Elliot and Perrion Winfrey will have to control the Steelers rushing attack. Stop the run and make Pickett beat you. Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods is finally moving defensive end Myles Garrett around the defensive front, but rookies Isaiah Thomas and Alex Wright will have to provide additional pressure. As for the secondary, again, keep doing what you’ve been doing the last couple of weeks, it’s been working. Hopefully, cornerback Denzel Ward will play.
When the Browns win the turnover margin, they are 5-0 this year. Pittsburg is +3 and the Browns are even in this area for the season. Win the turnover battle, avoid costly penalties (since the Bengals loss they’ve had 10 penalties for 97 yards in three games) and control the clock. End the season on a positive note. I’m 100% positive I’ll be a Browns fan in 2023. Enjoy the game.