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Week 6 Scouting Report: Steelers vs Browns

BROWNS (1-4) at STEELERS (3-2)
1 p.m. at Heinz Field (65,050) in Pittsburgh
Playing surface: Natural grass
TV COVERAGE
CBS (locally KDKA-TV, Channel 2)
Kevin Harlan, play-by-play; Solomon Wilcots, analysis
RADIO
Steelers Radio Network (WDVE-FM, 102.5, WBGG-AM, 970; WBVP-AM, 1230, WMBA-AM, 1460)
Bill Hillgrove, play-by-play; Tunch Ilkin, analysis; Craig Wolfley, sideline reporter
SERIES HISTORY

In a series that began in 1950, the Steelers lead 59-55.
The Steelers have a 37-21 lead in games played in Pittsburgh, but are 22-34 in Cleveland.
Since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, the Steelers are 50-24 against the Browns, including 32-6 in games played in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have won 11 straight against the Browns, dating back to their last loss, 33-13, on Oct. 5, 2003 at Heinz Field.
Last year, the Steelers beat the Browns 10-6 in Cleveland and 31-0 in Pittsburgh.
“Why is this a rivalry?” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said when asked if an 11-game winning streak over the Browns takes away from the rivalry. “It’s a rivalry because it’s a divisional game.”
TODAY’S STORYLINE
In the 115th playing of the Turnpike Rivalry, the heavily-favored Steelers (3-2) won’t have defensive end Aaron Smith, who was placed in the season-ending injured reserve list on Tuesday with a shoulder injury. But all-star strong safety Troy Polamalu does return after missing four games with a sprained knee.
The Steelers trail the first-place Cincinnati Bengals (4-1) by one game in the AFC North Division. The Bengals are home today against the Houston Texans (2-3).
Meanwhile, the Browns (1-4) got their first win last Sunday by edging the Buffalo Bills, 6-3.
TODAY’S KEY MATCH-UPS
DEREK ANDERSON vs. STEELERS’ PASS DEFENSE
After Jay Cutler threw four interceptions in his debut with Chicago, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau predicted a better performance in Cutler’s second game as the Bears’ quarterback. LeBeau was right. Cutler didn’t throw any picks in leading the Bears to a 17-14 win over the Steelers.
LeBeau feels the same about Cleveland QB Derek Anderson, who completed just 2-of-17 passes last week in a 6-3 win in Buffalo where winds gusted up to 35 miles per hour.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” LeBeau said. “We’ve seen him at the top of the league in production. I’ve been in Buffalo (as assistant head coach in 2003) and I know how the wind can be. If you complete one pass in that climate, you’re doing pretty good. So we’re not paying any attention to (Anderson’s stats in Buffalo). He’s a quality veteran quarterback who gets rid of the ball quick, and he’s been to the Pro Bowl.”
Yes, Anderson did go to the Pro Bowl in 2007. But for the past year and a half, he’s battled Brady Quinn for the starting job. Quinn started the first two games for the Browns this season before giving way to Anderson.
In his three starts, Anderson has thrown one touchdown pass and five interceptions. If Anderson struggles against the Steelers, it could be a long day for the Browns.
INJURY REPORT
Except for the injury to Smith, the Steelers are in decent shape. No one else on the roster has been ruled out of today’s game due to injury. Polamalu returns, as does running back Willie Parker, who missed two games with a turf toe injury. However, it’s Rashard Mendenhall who’s expected to make his third straight start at running back.
Meanwhile, several key Browns are listed as questionable. Among them are four starters on defense: inside linebackers D’Qwell Jackson (hamstring) and Eric Barton (neck) and defensive ends Kenyon Coleman (groin) and Robaire Smith (calf).
Also questionable is kicker Phil Dawson, who’s missed the last three games with a calf injury.
In the NFL, questionable means a player has a 50/50 chance of playing.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It’s great. I’ve heard the term ugly win, but I don’t think there’s anything ugly about a win. Ever. It’s what we’re all trying to do each week, and they’re going to come in dramatically different ways each week.”
_ Browns coach Eric Mangini when asked how it felt to get his first win in Cleveland, a 6-3 decision last week in Buffalo
BETTING LINE
The Steelers are favored by 14 points
BIRES PREDICTION
Steelers 34, Browns 13
After five close games, the Steelers are due to break out for a blow-out win, and they’ll get it today against the hapless Browns

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Mike Bires

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