For the first time in years, the Browns firmly punched the Pittsburgh Steelers in the mouth a couple of weeks ago in a dominating 21-7 victory. They also might have beaten someone’s face in with a helmet, but that’s beside the point. After the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette donned the game a “holy war,” it was perhaps indicative that the long-dormant rivalry between these two teams may be reborn. With it being largely one-sided for the last decade-plus, now the ball is in Pittsburgh’s court (field) to retaliate. Hopefully not violently.
With that in mind, let’s check out what’s to come:
The Visiting Cleveland Browns:
The Browns have finally got a bit of rhythm going, winners of three-straight games. They will look to sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time since 1988. To do that, they’ll look to get repeat performances on offense from Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb. The former had a solid showing two weeks ago, going 17-32 with 193 yards, but throwing two touchdowns against no turnovers for a good QBR of 97.4. The latter carried the rock 27 times for a solid 92 yards.
Once again, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry appeared on the injury report this week with groin and hip maladies respectively. Still, their status for this huge game is not even close to in doubt. The same, however, cannot be said about tackle Greg Robinson (Concussion) or safety Eric Murray (Knee), who haven’t practiced this week. The latter has actually already been ruled out for this week’s affair. After missing their first matchup, DE Olivier Vernon (Knee) is currently questionable after being limited in practice all week and safety Damarious Randall is out (Coach’s Decision).
While still a very long shot, the team hasn’t been ruled out of a wild card push at this point of the season. Given the bad blood between these teams after the chaotic ending to their first match, look for the Browns to do what they can to reach .500 again.
The Hometown Steelers:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a close victory in Cincinnati, 16-10. The main takeaway from the game was the team’s decision to bench Mason Rudolph for Devlin Hodges. That decision may have actually saved Pittsburgh from losing an embarrassing game to an embarrassing team. Sadly, it will deprive the Browns of their opportunity to rematch the man whom Myles Garrett beat up with his own helmet.
To say the Pittsburgh Steelers are hurting would be a dramatic understatement. Juju Smith-Schuster (Concussion/Knee) has already been ruled out. Running back James Connor (Shoulder) is currently listed as doubtful. Starting cornerback Artie Burns (Knee) has been listed as questionable but did log a full practice on Friday, giving him a decent chance at being able to go. Finally, starting linemen Alejandro Villanueva (Shoulder) and Ramon Foster (Non-injury related) did show up on the injury report, but neither have had issues practicing this week and are likely good to go.
With the Steelers needing a win to stay afloat for the playoffs, and having a chance for revenge against the Browns, the fans will no doubt pack the stands and the team will come to play hard.