Last Sunday was a wild ride. The Browns came back from the dead to erase a massive deficit on the road. Does that sound familiar? If it does, you may be thinking about their week 1 soiree with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, there's a major difference between the game at Pittsburgh, and the game at Tennessee. The Browns beat the Titans, and lost to the Steelers. The Browns may have lost to the Steelers the first go 'round, but there's plenty of reason to be optimistic for a victory in their second chance.
Here are my 3 reasons to be optimistic for Sunday's contest vs. Pittsburgh.
This one was obvious. As I previously mentioned, the Browns were down big to the Steelers, 27-3 at halftime, to be exact. But the Browns made some strong halftime adjustments and came out looking like a different team in the second half. As we know, their comeback would ultimately be cut short by a Shaun Suisham field goal "as time expired."
The Browns now get a chance to exact their revenge on Sunday. Both teams are coming off less-than-convincing wins against subpar teams. We know about the Browns comeback against Tennessee, and the Steelers only scored one offensive touchdown against Jacksonville in a 17-9 win.
All that can be thrown out the window. Sunday is about one thing for this Browns team, and it's getting back at the Steelers, if only a little. The Browns have lost four straight to the Steelers, and 26 of their last 29 (!!!). You have to believe being down 24 points on the road at Pittsburgh, coming all the way back, then losing on a last-second field goal simply cannot sit well with this team. Pair that with the aforementioned record against the Steelers recently, and you have a recipe for a team that's ready to knock Pittsburgh off.
2. Browns ground game
Last week I correctly predicted that Ben Tate would have 100+ yards against the Titans. This week against the Steelers, I'm not as confident, however, I do think the Browns' run game will be pivotal in securing the W.
The Browns gashed the Steelers in week 1 to the tune of 191 yards on the ground (6.1 ypc). Ben Tate also went down with a knee injury after just 6 carries. Tate returned last week to carry the ball 22 times for 124 yards (5.6 ypc). Terrance West shouldered the load in week 1, and went for an even 100 yards in his rookie debut. Clearly the Browns believe they can have success on the ground against the Steleers, and that is the recipe I believe they'll follow.
Additionally, the Steelers will be without Jarvis Jones due to injury, as well as potentially Ryan Shazier. Injuries to that defense will certainly not aid in their attempt to slow down the Browns rushing attack. Look for the Browns to have another big day on the ground.
3. Pittsburgh reeling
Maybe reeling isn't necessarily the best term, but not-playing-great didn't look as good for a heading. The Steelers last two opponents have been the Buccaneers and Jaguars, two games you'd expect them to win easily. Not so fast, my friend. The Steelers lost to the Bucs on a last second TD catch by Vincent Jackson, and then housed a Blake Bortles INT in the 4th quarter to seal a win against the Jags.
Neither game was Pittsburgh's finest hour.
You may think that their frustrations of losing to Tampa Bay and surviving against Jacksonville will be ammunition for them to unload on the Browns. But I just don't see it. The Steelers have been too up and down so far this year to put a ton of faith in them coming into Cleveland and unloading.
The Browns offense has been an incredibly nice surprise early on, and a surprise that I believe will come to fruition again on Sunday.
I've talked a lot about the loss to Pittsburgh in week 1 as being one the keys to this game. Obviously every team wants to win every game, every Sunday. But there are some games that teams just get a little more juiced. This is one of those games. Steelers vs. Browns. Divisional game. In Cleveland. Yes, please.
For me, the signs are pointing towards a Cleveland victory. Then again, I'm accused all the time of being too optimistic. This week, I don't think that's the case. I think we have every right to feel we're going to win.
I've outlined my three reasons why I think we'll win. What do you all think, why are you optimistic we'll take it to Pittsburgh?
Go Browns, beat Pittsburgh.