The game marks the beginning of life without quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was lost for the season after suffering a displaced fracture in his throwing shoulder during last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.
With Watson sidelined, the Browns (6-3) will turn to rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to help keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. This will be the second time that DTR has started this season and the Steelers (6-3) will pose as big of a challenge as the Ravens did when Thompson-Robinson started in Week 4.
One big difference this time is the Browns learned how to win without Watson when he missed four games earlier in the season, a stretch that saw the Browns be a play or two away from posting three wins in four tries.
That knowledge, along with a top defense and a growing resilience from a team that has been dealing with adversity all season, could be enough to help the Browns hot on the heels of the Ravens for first place in the division.
There are still 60 minutes of football to be played before we get there, so here is everything you need to know to get ready for this week’s biggest game of the season.
Records: Cleveland is 6-3. Pittsburgh is 6-3.
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Stadium: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio.
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, Evan Washburn (sideline reporter)
Radio: ESPN 850, 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX, 89.1 FM La Mega (Spanish)
Announcers: Jim Donovan, Nathan Zegura, Jerod Cherry (sideline reporter)
First meeting: The Browns won the first meeting, 30-17, on October 7, 1950.
Last meeting: The Steelers won the previous meeting, 26-22, in Week 2 of this season.
All-time series: The Steelers lead the all-time series, including playoffs, 81-62-1. Cleveland has won three of the last four at home against the Steelers.
Weather: 49 degrees and mostly sunny with a two percent chance of rain. Winds from the northwest at 12 mph. (weather.com)
Uniform: The Browns will be kitted out in their best uniform combo of a brown jersey, orange pants and the return of the white facemask.
you asked for it, you got it...white facemasks return this week ⚪ pic.twitter.com/sQbfTI4EfK— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 17, 2023
Injury report: Browns - Out: Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion) and safety Juan Thornhill (calf). Questionable: Guard Michael Dunn (calf) and offensive tackle Dawand Jones (knee). Steelers - Out: Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (hamstring), safety Keanu Neal (rib) and defensive tackle Montravius Adams (ankle). Questionable: Tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring).
The line: Browns -1.5 (DraftKings)
Some Notes to Remember
- Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett is tied for the league lead in sacks with 11, with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt right behind with 10.5. A big day from either play could turn the tide on Sunday.
- Pittsburgh comes into the game fresh off a 205-yard rushing effort against the Green Bay Packers. The Browns will counter with a defense that is allowing just 3.8 yards per carry and 91.6 rushing yards per game.
"Those guys had a tenacity that I hadn't seen from them before" pic.twitter.com/o6ngJGDrUE— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 16, 2023
- Cleveland is tied for second in the league with an average of 147.9 rushing yards per game, while Pittsburgh is near the bottom of the rankings as they are allowing 131.2 rushing yards per game.
- If the Browns can get the run game going, that will take a lot of pressure off rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and help him become just the sixth rookie quarterback to beat the Steelers in the past 30 opportunities.
- In their first meeting this season, the Browns held Pittsburgh to nine first downs, 255 yards of offense and 12 points.
- This week’s game poster has a nice old-time vibe:
- Cleveland is 4-1 at home this season and has only allowed 51 points in those five games.
- The Browns are 1-6 against the Steelers when starting a rookie quarterback, with the lone win coming with Brandon Weeden throwing for 154 yards and a touchdown in a 20-14 victory in 2012.
- Placekicker Dustin Hopkins is leading the NFL in field goals made (24), points (86) and is a perfect seven-for-seven on field goals of 50-plus yards.
In Case You Missed It
A Final Quote
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson on the difference between this game and his first start (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“I mean, shoot, I know what to expect now. Unlike many other people out there, I’ve been in an NFL game, so I’m not stepping out there for the first time. I know all my keys, all what to look at throughout film, what to watch, who key players are on their defense and everything now. So, I’m not just going out there wide-eyed anymore. I’m going out there with things to look at, things to focus on and a plan to be able to tackle.”
What are you looking for from the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Steelers?