Steelers – Browns
— TOP STORYLINES TO WATCH —
— No Coach, No Practice, No Chance? —
A covid outbreak has put the Cleveland Browns in uncharted waters for a franchise appearing in his first playoff game since the 2002 season. No head coach, little to no practice time, ect.
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter tonight as a six point favorite, but all week they’ve been penciled in by many as already advancing to the divisional playoffs. Pundits and the local media have chalked tonight up as being potentially one of the worst if not the worst playoff loss in Steelers history, were the Steelers to stumble at home against the Browns.
For all that’s going on with the Browns, it’s still shocking so many are taking that route. It’s something how two quarters against the Colts in Week 16 just wiped out what we were seeing for the previous 5-6 weeks with this Steelers club.
Yes, the Steelers should prevail tonight, but it wouldn’t be a stunner by any means were the Browns to come into Pittsburgh and win.
— Which Ben shows up? —
The most intriguing storyline to whether we see a 10+ point Steelers win or a much closer game is which Ben Roethlisberger shows up.
A lot have decided to drink the Kool-Aid that the out of nowhere breakout with the deep passing game in the second half of the Colts is what we’re going to see from here on out.
If that is actually the case, then it’s an obvious game changer for the Steelers not just tonight, but moving forward in a showdown with the Bills next week.
Which Ben shows up dictates everything tonight on whether it’s a close one or the Steelers are in control for most of the game.
— Wide Receiver Group Trending Up? —
Momentum from the second half of the Colts game carried over to the Browns game in week 17. Dionate Johnson looks back mentally to playing at a gifted level where he can burn you with just a couple opportunities of a favorable matchup…..Chase Claypool has re-emerged after hitting a rookie lull and the Steelers are finally using tik-tok man Juju Smith-Schuster on more intermediate routes in the middle of the field. The wide receiver group will be another trend to watch tonight…..
— Cleveland Running Game….. Running QB? —
Cleveland’s running game vs Pittsburgh run defense is advantage Cleveland as the Steelers defending the run is nowhere near the level they were earlier in the season. The return of Robert Spillane will help, but the more intriguing matchup on how this game goes is Baker Mayfield’s creativity in the pocket.
Mayfield has been elite this season in play-action situations, posting the second-best QBR in the league. To counter that, the Steelers are one of the best defenses in defending the play-action.
A mobile QB in the pocket is such an advantage in today’s NFL. No one is going to confuse Mayfield for LaMarr Jackson but the Week 17 matchup saw an underrated aspect of Mayfield’s game where he can escape the pocket and move the ball with his legs. That’s something the Steelers must be prepared for.
— Prediction Steelers 24 – Browns 20 —