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Browns vs. Steelers Gameday Preview

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It feels like just yesterday that we played the Chiefs, and rightly so considering that it was only four days ago when we played our last football game. Although the intensity from general fans around the nation isn't too high for tonight's game do to the lack of playoff implications, everyone in Cleveland and Pittsburgh will be pumped up. It will be a cold night with snow showers expected, and so many differences will be put into effect since these teams met three weeks ago. The Steelers are hurting from missing four starters, while the Browns may have find something with quarterback Derek Anderson. Let's get to the breakdown of the game...

OFFENSE

Category Browns Steelers
Points Scored 16.8 (29th) 21.6 (11th)
Passing 181.6 (24th) 241.5 (7th)
Rushing 85.9 (30th) 105.0 (19th)
Total Offense (yards) 267.5 (29th) 346.5 (7th)

DEFENSE

Category Browns Steelers
Points Scored 22.1 (23rd) 21.4 (20th)
Passing 208.4 (16th) 201.1 (14th)
Rushing 131.8 (24th) 100.3 (8th)
Total Defense (yards) 340.2 (21st) 301.4 (10th)
- Quarterback
The status of the Browns quarterback position is in question, because assuming Derek Anderson starts, the Steelers should be ready. The Steelers won't wait around and play back like the Chiefs did - they'll attack the line of scrimmage. How Anderson responds to that remains to be seen. The reason the Steelers don't have the advantage is due to their lack of depth at the receiver position with all of their injuries. Ben Roethlisberger already throws too many interceptions, as we saw the first time he faced us. He'll have to step his game up to move the ball with backups in the game.
- Running Back
The Steelers running game is no doubtedly weaker than it has been in the past, but with both starting receivers out, Pittsburgh will try and pound the ball with Willie Parker and Najeh Davenport. The Browns are coming off our best running-back combination of the season, but consistency is the issue here. Jason Wright did a good job the first time he faced Pittsburgh, but this is a completely different game. Until our offense line can create penetration for two weeks in a row, we don't deserve to be ranked evenly at this position. If Anderson struggles to throw, the Steelers will stack the line of scrimmage with defenders, only making things tougher.
- Receiver
If you've seen a weaker group of wide receivers heading into this game than the Steelers have, I'd like to know about it. Nothing against Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes, but it's rare that a team has to start two rookie wideouts because their veteran receivers are out with injuries. The Browns finally got Joe Jurevicius involved in the offense properly last week by using Kellen Winslow as a so called "decoy". Braylon Edwards, despite not having a touchdown the first time around, basically had his way with beating the Steelers defensive backs. With Troy Polamalu out this time around, maybe he won't be able to chase him down on a spring to the end zone.
- Offensive Line
Kelly Butler filled in rather well for Ryan Tucker once again last week, as our offensive line turned in perhaps their best half of football of the season when Anderson was under center. Just like the running back situation though, the consistency factor comes into play here. When Frye faced the Steelers a few weeks ago, he didn't have a whole lot of time to throw, and our offensive line could not come through when it was time to put the game away. The Steelers kept Big Ben on his feet for most of the game, and whenever we did reach him, we either let him go or were called for a penalty.
- Defensive Line
Orpheus Roye will miss his opportunity to face his old team in Pittsburgh again, allowing Simon Fraser to have his sights set on Roethlisberger again. If you remember correctly, Fraser was fined for knocking Roethlisberger around after an interception the last time we faced them. This time, hopefully Fraser can make a play while he still has the football. Meanwhile, the Steelers still have one of the league's best nose tackles in Casey Hampton, and they know how to open holes for their linebackers to blitz through and attempt to take down Anderson.
- Linebacker
There was nothing better than Kellen Winslow shoving Joey Porter to the ground a few weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to another encounter between the two of them today. Willie McGinest has turned in several solid games over the past couple of weeks while guys like D'Qwell Jackson, Andra Davis, and Kamerion Wimbley have started to defend the run better. Dropping back into coverage and blitzes are still issues for them though, which is complete to the contrary of the talent level of the Steelers group.
- Secondary
The last time we faced Roethlisberger, Daven Holly picked him off twice, taking one back the distance. However, when the Steelers went no huddle, our secondary was exposed. Having Leigh Bodden in the lineup will put a stop to that this time around, and with Brian Russell ruled out at safety, Brodney Pool will get his chance to shine. The Steelers are without both of their starting safeties, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. Considering that their cornerbacks have already struggled this season, they have a huge hole that they need to fill. This position isn't favored for Cleveland slightly, it's favored by a whole lot.
- Special Teams
Cribbs has returned the ball well all season, but his only return that went the distance came against the Steelers. Pittsburgh actually had some good returns against us, which is unusual because they really aren't very strong at that part of the game. Fans in Pittsburgh have complained that Chris Gardocki is past his prime, while fans in Cleveland are in awe at how much of a blessing Dave Zastudil has been for us. It won't be easy to kick on either side though, especially with snow in the forecast.
FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 28, Pittsburgh Steelers 14.
This is the first time this season that I'm taking the Browns by such an enormous margin. When we faced Pittsburgh in Cleveland a few weeks ago, there's no doubt in my mind that we should've won that game. We simply failed to execute the little things due to some poor calls in the playbook, something I hope was finally corrected after seeing last week's game. I know this score is a risk considering Anderson could "choke" against the Steelers blitzing defense, but the loss of both of their safeties is too much for them to overcome. Offensively, Roethlisberger really only had success in passing to his tight end and fullback last week. If we lose because of that, it'll be an embarrassment in itself. Let's hope for the best in ending our long streak of not winning two games in a row, and best of all - end our losing streak to those stupid Squeelers.

This is the official gameday thread for today's game. Any comments you would like to make before, during, or after the game should be placed into this thread. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!