Steelers Can’t Run – Pittsburgh is 30th out of 32 teams in the NFL in running the football. Rookie 2nd round pick Le’Veon Bell is only averaging only 3.1 yards per carry. The Browns defense, ranked 8th against the run this year, should be able to stop the Steelers ground attack and make Pittsburgh a one dimensional on offense.
Pressure Big Ben – The Browns D-Line should dominate a very poor Steelers O-Line and be able to put pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and gets some sacks and force Big Ben into a few turnovers. Roethlisberger already has thrown 10 picks and fumbled 5 times this season. Plus if anybody can shut down Antonio Brown it’s Joe Haden, forcing other receivers to make big plays. Heath Miller could be the one guy who really hurts the Browns on Sunday, because Cleveland’s linebackers don’t cover well. But you can double up on him if you have to.
Horton’s Familiarity – Ray Horton’s 7 years with the Steelers as an assistant coach should come in handy. His knowledge of Big Ben and the Steelers offense and as well as Dick Lebeau’s defense, should help the coaches and players be better prepared for the Black and Gold on both sides of the ball.
Run, Run, Run – If there was ever a game where the Browns should be able to run the ball, it’s this game against the Steelers who are ranked 26th in the NFL in run defense. If the Browns can establish some type of running game, it will allow Jason Campbell to use play action to his advantage, and suck up the linebackers and safeties of the Steelers and connect on some big plays down the field to Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.
Road Woes – The Steelers are a totally different team on the road this year than they are at home. Pittsburgh is just (1-4) away from Heinz Field and giving up 27.2ppg on the road.
Banged Up – With S-Shamarko Thomas out and DE-Brett Keisel and LB-LaMarr Woodley both questionable due to injury, along with other season ending injuries to key players, the Steelers are hurting big time and their backups are not very good!
Who’s Calling The Plays? – Will Mike Tomlin insist that offensive coordinator Todd Haley call the plays, or will Tomlin let Ben Roethlisberger go more no-huddle and call the plays? The Steelers have proved to be more effective on offense this year when they go hurry up and Big Ben is in control. If Haley is in charge, advantage Browns.
Value The Football – The Steelers are a (-8) in the give- away/take-away stat. The Browns aren’t real good either at (-3), but if they can get Jason Campbell to protect the ball and manage the game and win the field position battle, that would go a long way in helping the Browns beat the Steelers for just the 6th time in 30 tries since the Browns came back to the NFL in 1999.
Lack Of Focusness (Jim Thome term) – While this is supposed to be one of the most hated rivalries in the NFL, it has lost it’s luster in recent years because of the Steelers total domination of the Browns. At one point Pittsburgh won 12 straight. The Steelers real rival these days is Baltimore and they play the Ravens on Thanksgiving night. So it’s very possible the Steelers could be looking ahead to that game more than they are focusing on this game.
Mother Nature – With the projected high temperature being 27 degrees on Sunday and with the chance of snow and winds at around 20mph, the weather in my opinion would favor the Browns in this game just like it did back in 2009. In subzero temperatures in that game the Browns sacked Ben Roethlisberger 8 times in route to a 13-6 win at Cleveland Browns Stadium as running back Chris Jennings scored the game’s only touchdown on a 10 yard run in the 2nd quarter.
My Prediction – Browns 16 Steelers 13