The unlikely defeat of the Cleveland Browns in Sunday will be fresh on everyone’s mind as they prepare to host the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday in a 1-1 AFC North club battle.
Both passing games have had two-game consistency issues, and it’s entirely possible there will be two different quarterbacks starting when they meet again in Week 18. But for now, it’s mitchell trubisky versus Jacob Brissett.
It’s a great game. Even though the Browns beat the Steelers twice in the 2020 season, including in the playoffs, this has been a one-sided rivalry in favor of Pittsburgh since the 1980s. And with the stench of Sunday’s total collapse still hanging over At FirstEnergy Stadium, the best way to dispel it is by defeating Cleveland’s most hated opponent.
Here are four things to watch for when the Steelers visit the Browns Thursday night on Prime Video:
- Quarterback uncertainty. Mike Tomlin said he has “liked” Trubisky a lot, but the offense just isn’t scoring enough, calling it a “collective” effort. That is very good and it is absolutely true what Tomlin says. But the Steelers just aren’t getting enough of their passing weapons. In a team with Dionte Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth Y najee harrislongest reception in two games is 32 yards, by backup tight end Gentry Zach — in a screen pass. The shots on the field just haven’t materialized so far. It’s likely that the protection, the receivers, the playcaller and maybe even the ball boy are to blame. But Trubisky is also a big part of it, and he may be pressuring some with a first-round pick. Kenny Pickett breathing down his proverbial neck. A QB trade might not be that far away if things, you know, don’t change with the results. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has rightfully blamed himself for the Steelers’ scoring problems, and getting off to a better start is key. The Steelers haven’t scored a TD on the opening drive since Week 5 of last year and have averaged 10.7 yards on their 11 opening drives with Canada since then. And these are the scripted works? The plays that you theoretically like the most? It wouldn’t be surprising for Canada to score an early vertical shot to test a Browns secondary that was torched by the Jets in the fourth quarter last week. As for the Browns and Brissett, he’s likely to be the candidate through November, and he’s been fine. amari cooper and the other weapons will have to make the most of their opportunities with Brissett at QB, starting with this key game.
- Running the game might have the key. The Browns are averaging a nuclear 200.5 rushing yards through the first two games of the season. Only one team (the 2019 Ravens) has averaged more than 200 rushing yards in a season, so it seems unlikely to maintain this rate. Part of the reason is due to the limitations of Brissett and the passing game, but nick chubb Y kareem hunt they’re about as good one-two RB shots as there are in the NFL. They have scored 54% of the team’s points so far and gained 51% of the team’s scrimmage yards. If they’re not the strength of the team right now, then the offensive line (even with some injuries) is. The Steelers are a different defense without tj watt, and they will have a great puzzle in this game. Stopping the Browns’ running game might not be as simple as carrying the box. Why? Well, once Watt hurt his pectoral in Week 1, Pittsburgh switched to fewer light boxes. The problem: According to Next Gen Stats, the Steelers’ defense ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the league in rushing yards before contact, rushing yards above expectations and RYOE average when using seven or more defenders in the box. Both Chubb and Hunt are tough to tackle, but especially Chubb. The Steelers’ tackling against the Patriots was better than it was in Week 1 against the Bengals, but might not exactly be considered a strong point. Pittsburgh will have its hands full.
- Both teams collided, but the Browns more. Watt isn’t the only big-name defender who could be out Thursday. brown stars myles garrett (neck) will touch, but Jadeveon Clown (ankle) and Chase Winovich (hamstring), which supports both ends, will be out. left guard Joel Bitonio (biceps) will adapt, but probably won’t be 100 percent. Even Brissett suffered an ankle injury last week, although he has said he is fine. For Pittsburgh, Watt is the most notable potential absence, along with linebacker. devin bush, who is dealing with a foot injury he suffered against New England. But Bush has been rotating with Robert Spillaneso the Steelers should be fine if Bush can’t go.
- It could all be reduced to the fourth. The fourth quarters have been an adventure for both teams so far. In Week 1, the Browns led the Panthers, 20-7, entering the fourth, but had to hold on for their lives in a 26-24 final. Then, in Week 2 against the Jets, the Browns dropped three points in the fourth, only to take a 13-point lead with less than two minutes left…and lose! In regulation, no less! The Steelers’ recent quarters have been only slightly less chaotic, nearly losing to the Bengals (before they blocked an extra point and won in overtime) and then watched the Patriots control the ball for 12 minutes and 19 seconds of the final fourth in a bitter defeat. . The Steelers beat the Browns twice last season, pulling away in two late-quarter attrition battles. Late turnovers killed the Browns both times, and they were one of the worst fourth-quarter teams in 2021, outscored by 50 points. This season, Cleveland has been outscored 34-19 in the last two quarters. Can Stefanski’s team finish a tough game against a division rival? Garrett scream the Browns fans who booed at the end of last week’s meltdown. The best way you can avoid that is by making a game-changing play, and preferably late in the game.