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Browns vs Steelers: 3 keys for Cleveland to keep up their winning ways

A huge AFC North matchup could come down to some simple things

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been an emotionally draining week for the Cleveland Browns. After making an improbable comeback against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, the Browns lost their franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season as he underwent season-ending surgery on his shoulder.

It was a gut-punch but the Browns have a football game to play this Sunday. Another divisional foe, this time the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Once again, the Cleveland Browns are back on the NFL on CBS after playing on the NFL on Fox last week. For the third time this season Ian Eagle, Charles Davis and Evan Washburn will be on the call. Kickoff is at 1:00 pm. It’s time to lock in.

Another day, another bout with adversity

If there is one team that has dealt with a ton of adversity this season, it is the Cleveland Browns. Losing their starting right tackle, running back, and starting quarterback this season is less than ideal.

The team is 6-3 and still in the playoff picture. Losing Watson stings but the team is silencing the outdoor noise.

Cleveland showed last week and throughout this season that this team will fight. Whenever people count them out, the team tends to play above and beyond their expectations. You could say they have fully embraced the “Cleveland vs Everybody” mantra internally but the team is going to have to do so more now with the loss of Watson.

It’s a divisional bout against the Steelers and this team will be motivated to prove a point to not only themselves but the rest of the league and the city of Cleveland that they aren’t dead.

How will rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson look with a full week of prep?

The last time we saw DTR on the field in a regular season game, it wasn’t a great outing. However, he didn’t know he was starting until he arrived at the stadium (it’s like transferring to a new school and discovering you have a test in a class you never took before). He was unprepared and he struggled.

However, with the loss of Watson Cleveland chose to go in the direction of Thompson-Robinson instead of going with veteran backup P.J. Walker.

With a full week of preparation, Thompson-Robinson will be prepared and well-equipped.

Cleveland chose to go with the rookie instead of the veteran due to the fact he might have a higher ceiling than Walker. (I’m unsure but they know better than I do). The game plan will be simplified for Thompson-Robinson to execute. The Steelers defense isn’t elite by any means, you can move the ball against this unit as long as you don’t turn the ball over.

Game-manager approach for this Browns offense is essential: run the ball effectively which they have done and take what the defense gives you.

Expect a different DTR this Sunday.

Make life uncomfortable for quarterback Kenny Pickett

The Pittsburgh offense isn’t necessarily good. This unit struggles to move the ball down the field from time to time, so it can be contained easily.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett is what he is at this point in his career, he’s not great but he’s not bad. He’s also not the answer at the quarterback position for Pittsburgh (I said what I said).

The conservative approach for this Steelers offense (similar to what was suggested for DTR and the Browns can only work so for so long but once you go against a defense that is elite, pretty soon you will have to be aggressive.

Against this defense? I wouldn’t try it.

Force Pickett to beat you and make life uncomfortable. Take away the running game and make life difficult in the passing game. Pickett doesn’t target the middle of the field for some reason and that could be an advantage for Cleveland. Cleveland’s defense has played better as of late despite the slow starts, and this week will be motivated to continue their exceptional play.

Look for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to make life uncomfortable, and look for the Browns defensive line to have their ears pinned back.

What are your three keys for the Browns versus the Steelers?