Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Cleveland Browns: Bold Predictions For NFL Week 11 Clash
The Pittsburgh Steelers are reeling.
Pittsburgh (4-5) heads to Cleveland this weekend to the face the winless Browns (0-10) having lost four straight. The Steelers are coming off a heartbreaking 35-30 to the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field on Sunday. The Steelers outgained the Cowboys 448-422 in total offensive yards and held a one-point lead with 42 seconds remaining in the game. But the Steelers defense, which has struggled all year, permitted the Cowboys to go 75 yards on five plays with rookie Ezekiel Elliot scampering into the end zone on a 32-yard run.
Pittsburgh is currently in ninth place in the AFC playoff standings, two-and-a-half games behind the Denver Broncos for the final wild card spot. The Steelers sit one game behind AFC North division leading Baltimore Ravens though they are technically further behind due to tie-breaking procedures.
Cleveland looked like a complete disaster last week in its 28-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns mustered just 144 yards of total offense, including a measly 42 yards in the second half after coach Hugh Jackson inexplicably replaced quarterback Cody Kessler with Josh McCown. McCown turned the ball over three times.
This is the first meeting of the year between the two rivals. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. with the game being televised on CBS. The Steelers lead the all-time series 70-58, having won two straight and 22-of-the-past-25 meetings. The Browns have won 37 of the 63 games at home overall. Cleveland is 1-2 against Pittsburgh in games at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Ben Roethlisberger will throw for 325 Yards and three touchdowns
Roethlisberger was outstanding against the Cowboys on Sunday, completing 80.4 percent of his passes (37-of-46) for a season-high 408 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with Antonio Brown on an epic fake spike touchdown pass to give the Steelers a 30-29 lead late in the game. Roethlisberger has topped the 300-yard mark four times this year.
Roethlisberger is in the midst of his worst season in the last three years. The 13-year veteran has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 2,347 yards along with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Roethlisberger is 20-2 in his career against the Browns, but he has not had a huge amount of personal success — completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 242.0 yards a game. He also has tossed 35 touchdowns and 17 interceptions against the Browns.
Cleveland has the sixth worst pass defense this year, giving up 275 yards a game along with a league-high 25 touchdowns. The Browns have picked off eight passes. Cornerbacks Joe Haden (three interceptions) and Jamar Taylor (two) are solid. Taylor missed the game against the Ravens with a groin injury and is currently listed as questionable for Sunday.
Five quarterbacks have surpassed the 300-yard passing plateau against the Browns this year.
Terrelle Pryor Sr. will have five catches and 65 total yards of offense
Pryor is a quality wide receiver, hauling in 51 passes for 62.7 yards per game. He has six receptions of 20 yards or longer, and has four touchdowns. Pryor is the Browns’ clear number one passing weapon as he has been targeted 91 times, which is 37 more than the next closest receiver.
Pryor had five catches on nine targets against the Ravens. He has caught five or more passes in three straight contests, and seven of the last eight games. The 27-year-old also has 21 rushing yards and 41 yards through the air.
The Steelers’ defense has permitted the eighth most yards through the air at 286.6 yards per game. The Steelers have given up 24 plays of 20 yards or more. Six receivers have reached the 100-yard mark against the team.
The Steelers have not been very good at getting to the quarterback this year. And now defensive end Cameron Heyward will likely miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Heyward leads the team with three sacks.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelersinfo) November 15, 2016
Jaime Collins will be the Browns best defensive player on the field
Collins has been fabulous since coming to the Browns from the New England Patriots in an October 31 trade. The 27-year-old outside linebacker is an every down player who is solid against the run and possesses good coverage skills. He has 17 tackles with 12 being solo tackles in the two games with the Browns. Two of the tackles have been for losses.
CBS is reporting that the Browns would like to re-sign the free agent to be in the offseason.
Le’Von Bell will rush for at least 85 yards and score a total of two touchdowns
Pittsburgh’s running attack has stalled lately. The Steelers have gained 84 yards on the ground the last two games. Overall, they rank 25th in the league with 90.7 yards on the ground per game. Part of the reason for the team’s low numbers is that the Steelers have gone away from the traditional running, preferring short passes instead.
Starting running back Le’Veon Bell has just 100 carries in his six games this year, compared to 45 receptions — he had 24 catches in six games last year. The 24-year-old back is averaging 4.3 yards per carry for the season, but has only totaled 89 yards on 31 carries over the past two games (2.87 yards per carry). He has one, 100-yard game this season, and is averaging 72.1 yards per contest. Bell also has two touchdowns this season (one receiving, one rushing).
This prediction has more to do with how bad the Browns defense is, rather than how well Bell is running. That is not to say that Bell is not superbly talented, he topped 1,300 yards two years ago. It is just that Cleveland’s run defense is horrendous. The Browns are giving up 143.7 yards a game on the ground.
Cleveland has allowed eight of their 10 opponents to rush 100 yards. Matt Jones (Washington) and Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati) are the only two backs to top the 100-yard mark.
Pittsburgh keeps playoff hopes alive with 17 point victory
The Steelers are 7.5 favorites according to Oddssharks.
Roethlisberger has said that this game is a “must win.” And that is exactly what they get, rolling to a 30-13 victory.
Ben Roethlisberger: Browns game is a 'must win' for Steelers pic.twitter.com/Hah4j3CbIw
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelersinfo) November 15, 2016
Pittsburgh has been outscored 114-75 in the last four games. Still, the Steelers have a plus-eight margin of victory. The Steelers are 1-3 on the road with their only win coming in Week 1 over Washington (38-16).
Cleveland is the third lowest scoring team (17.5 points per game) in the NFL, and are giving up the second most points (30.1), which is not a good combination. The Browns have surrendered at least 25 points in each of their 10 games. In total, the Browns have been outscored by a league-high 126 points.
[Featured Image by Don Wright/AP Images]