Tonight could be either a step in the right direction for the Steelers to move towards a possible playoff spot, or it could be the final nail in the coffin for a team that has already lost four straight, including losing to the Chiefs and Raiders.
The Steelers scored 24 points last week, yet were unable to find a way to stop Oakland in the fourth quarter in an eventual 27-24 loss. Cleveland is simply awful. They have lost 17 of their last 18 games, and haven’t scored a single TD in six of their games this season.
Back in October the Browns scored one offensive TD in a 27-14 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The Steelers dominated the game, yet only won by 13. Of course they also allowed a kick return to Josh Cribbs, which has been the teams undoing more than once this year.
The Browns will need that same type of effort tonight, meaning they will need all the balls to bounce their way against a Steelers team that dominates them just about every time they play them. Brady Quinn, who has never faced the Steelers, will need to do what Bruce Gradkowski did last week, attack the Steelers secondary and defensive backs.
The difference between the Raiders and Browns though is that Cleveland doesn’t have a wide out the size of a Louis Murphy, who picked on Ike Taylor and basically beat them in the last drive. The Steelers corners, whoever they are, should not have an issue against the Browns less than average wide out core.
Cleveland also has little to offer in the running game. Jamal Lewis is done for the year, and they will try to use running backs Chris Jennings and Jerome Harrison to at least open up some type of running attack. Again though, the Steelers should dominate here.
The Steelers torched the Browns secondary the last time around. Hines Ward and company made big plays all day, and even with the poor weather tonight in Cleveland, they should be able to throw on the Browns. Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker might need to run a combined 40 times, but they will be able to dominate the Browns poor defense.
The weather is going to be a factor. The temp at kickoff with the wind chill is expected to be negative 2, and the wind is going to be something that could help the Browns. Usually when a good team plays a bad one, weather makes the bad team at least look better, in this case, we shall see.
The Steelers are desperate. They know a loss tonight would basically end their season. They have to find a way to get this done, and the Browns are the just team to do that against.
Steelers 24 Browns 7