Browns-Steelers. An enormous recreation, not simply within the AFC North, however within the AFC playoff image usually for each groups, with the Browns taking a giant hit in the midst of the week.
As is presently identified, the Browns misplaced beginning quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season, leaving the Browns in huge bother on the quarterback place. Once they host the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday, they are going to accomplish that with fifth-round rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson underneath heart towards a protection that’s taking the soccer away at the perfect price within the NFL.
Robust activity for Cleveland.
Nevertheless, Sunday’s recreation will likely be about way more than simply the beginning quarterback. Cleveland nonetheless has an elite-level protection. The Steelers are firing on all cylinders within the run recreation, they usually’ve discovered easy methods to play some ugly, low-scoring soccer video games that as a rule result in wins.
Can they do it once more? We’ll see. It is going to come right down to some key matchups.
Let’s have a look at.
Steelers’ DL Cameron Heyward vs. Browns’ LG Joel Bitonio
It looks like for nearly the previous decade each time the Steelers and Browns get collectively, Cameron Heyward’s matchup towards Joel Bitonio within the trenches is a must-watch. Though they’re each transferring up in age and mileage, they continue to be high-level gamers and might actually swing the match on Sunday.
Heyward, who returned to the lineup in week 9 towards the Tennessee Titans after lacking the earlier six video games with a groin damage that required surgical procedure, would not have his legs absolutely underneath him but, however that ought to occur right here quickly. Whilst he continues to return to full energy and peak health, Heyward stays efficient.
Heyward has a Professional Soccer Focus grade of 59.7 on the season, which is on tempo to be the bottom of his profession, however he has three pressures within the final two video games and eight mixed tackles because the Steelers’ protection will get a giant enhance will get along with his return.
In opposition to Cleveland Heyward final season, he had three sacks and 7 complete pressures and dominated in Week 18 final season. Now he’ll get one other crack on the Browns.
As for Bitonio, he has been a pressure. He has a 68.2 grade on the season, however he’s a 73.3 go blocking grade on the season, permitting him to generate 17 pressures. In week two towards the Steelers, Bitonio posted a 58.0 general score and allowed two pressures. Traditionally, he is been a fantastic inside participant. He was rated 93.6 and 87.5 by PFF over the previous two seasons.
He could also be slowing down a bit, however Bitonio continues to be a fantastic guard. Get pleasure from watching Heyward and Bitonio struggle when you can.
Browns’ DE Myles Garrett vs. Steelers’ LT Dan Moore Jr.
One other acquainted matchup to look at. It was a recreation to look at in week two and Moore was a part of the sport plan that held Garrett to only three pressures however no sacks. That was a continuation of the sturdy play Moore has had towards Garrett general. During the last three seasons, in 5 video games to this point, Garrett has just one sack and 17 pressures towards the Steelers, largely towards Moore.
However when he isn’t enjoying towards the Steelers, Garrett is a monster. He has 11.0 sacks this season and is in the midst of the dialogue for the NFL’s Defensive Participant of the 12 months award.
As for Moore, he has performed higher in latest weeks since getting back from a knee damage suffered towards Houston. He is a lot better on the run, so if the Steelers need to sluggish Garrett down much more, they should set up the run and let Moore do what he does greatest, which is push individuals within the trenches.
Nevertheless, Garrett can rapidly change the sport. So the Steelers should chip in and provides Moore additional assist like they normally do.
Steelers’ ILBs vs. Browns’ TE David Njoku
In consecutive weeks, the Steelers misplaced veteran linebackers Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander for the season, taking away their two prime protection linebackers. Now it is as much as veteran Elandon Roberts, second-year professional Mark Robinson and observe squad standout Mykal Walker to deal with the within duties towards the Browns.
On paper, that is a fantastic match for standout tight finish David Njoku. The veteran Browns tight finish already has 38 receptions for 377 yards and two touchdowns on the season and is an actual weapon in the midst of the sector for Cleveland, whether or not that is stretching the seam or carving out defenses on display screen passes .
He is a severe matchup downside and that can actually be the case on Sunday for the Steelers, who gave up some huge performs on the sector to Inexperienced Bay rookie Luke Musgrave every week in the past after dropping Alexander. Now the Steelers may even be with out security Keanu Neal for the sport, placing extra strain on the Steelers’ inside linebackers towards tight ends.
Njoku is averaging 1.36 yards per route run this season, with a median goal depth of three.0. He’ll be close to the road of scrimmage lots, which ought to assist the Steelers’ linebackers, however Cleveland is transferring him throughout with 173 snaps in-line, 129 snaps within the slot and 28 snaps out broad. He’ll be a man that the Steelers have to know the place he’s always.
Browns’ Head Coach Kevin Stefanski vs. Steelers’ Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin
On paper, it seems the Steelers and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin may have the sting on this matchup, as Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski, who performs offense for the Browns, will likely be working with a fifth-round rookie. Traditionally, that is a fantastic matchup for the Steelers underneath head coach Mike Tomlin, as he’s 24-5 towards rookie quarterbacks in his profession, together with 1-1 this season.
Not a lot ought to change for Stefanski with Deshaun Watson out of the lineup, no less than stylistically. Cleveland goes to run the soccer to arrange the go, and they are going to use the display screen play lots to attempt to counter Pittsburgh’s go rush, because the Browns are right down to second and third set of tackles at this level.
For Austin, he has to know when to assault, and when to sit down again and simply be sensible. Whereas it is essential to be aggressive towards a younger rookie quarterback and confuse him on seems, the Steelers cannot afford to get too cute, not due to their very own damage points at security and the dearth of in-game expertise on the inside linebacker outdoors. of Roberts right now.
Will probably be a low-scoring recreation and may end in a handful of turnovers. Nevertheless, control the chess match between Stefanski and Austin. Will probably be a key function primarily based on play-calling and personnel groupings.