clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Browns vs Steelers: 3 things to watch for in the AFC North tilt on MNF

Key matchups including Browns Myles Garrett vs Steelers offensive line

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another divisional tilt for the Cleveland Browns facing off with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It’s Week 2 but it feels like a must-win game for both sides. Monday night in Pittsburgh provides another test for this Browns squad who are looking to build off their impressive win against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1.

After having the NFL on CBS’s B-team calling their game last week, the NFL on ESPN’s A-team of Joe Buck & Troy Aikman will be calling this AFC North tilt on Monday night at 8:15 PM on ABC.

Here are three things to watch for during the game:

Browns Defensive line vs Steelers offensive line

If there is one matchup that will be highlighted on Monday night, it will be Cleveland’s revamped defensive line against Pittsburgh’s revamped offensive line.

The Steelers offensive line had a pretty rough outing last week against the San Francisco 49ers’s defensive line, which is a top 5 line in the league.

Monday night will not be any easier.

Pittsburgh’s line suffered some injuries to offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor and guard James Daniels, but head coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic those two will play on Monday night.

Cleveland’s defensive line is vastly improved from the last time these two teams played each other, so it will be interesting how Pittsburgh will respond to this new-look group.

The 49ers essentially controlled the line of scrimmage the entire game and made life uncomfortable for quarterback Kenny Pickett. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is likely going to utilize different packages and stunts for his line in order to keep this Steelers offensive line on their heels. Expect Pittsburgh to use a bunch of chip help to contain defensive end Myles Garrett allowing Za’Darius Smith, Ogbo Okoronkwo, Maurice Hurst and Shelby Harris will be able to get involved.

Steelers defensive line vs Browns offensive line

Focusing on the other side of the ball, Cleveland’s offensive line will be tested against a talented Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line. Defensive lineman Cam Hayward will be out after suffering a groin injury but linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are there. Rookie defensive tackle Keeanu Benton will see his role expanded with Hayward out. Rookie offensive tackle Dawand Jones filled in admirably when veteran offensive tackle Jack Conklin went down with a torn ACL, but he will be tested against T.J. Watt, who is one of the premier edge rushers in the league but he is up for the challenge.

On the left side, offensive tackle Jedrick Wills will have his hands full with linebacker Alex Highsmith who is no push-over. Highsmith had his way with Wills in the past so Wills has to be prepared. Wills had an average outing last week but there is room for improvement, and he has a chance to show it on Monday night.

Is this the game that the Cleveland Browns passing game breaks out?

Despite playing in adverse weather conditions, quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t necessarily play well but he was able to make plays when it mattered the most, something that Cleveland has lacked at the quarterback position for quite some time.

As far as the passing game goes, it was better than Cincinnati’s considering the weather conditions but it will be interesting to see how it looks when the weather is somewhat decent. Watson made some well-placed throws including a dart to wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, but of course, there is room for improvement.

Jake Burns, who works for the OBR shared the same sentiment I have when it came to Deshaun Watson last Sunday.

Oftentimes Watson would be a bit amped up and rush into his throw instead of settling, which leads to his throws being thrown into the dirt. Watson is starting to get more comfortable in this offense because he is starting to trust himself, which is key.

If Watson continues to grow within the system, the passing game is bound to break out this week. Cleveland has quality weapons in the wide receiver room so it wouldn’t be a shock if Kevin Stefanski opens up the playbook if the opportunity presents itself. Pittsburgh’s secondary isn’t necessarily lock down by any means, but Stefanski is likely to be diverse this week and that could pay dividends this upcoming week.

What are you watching for Monday Night besides, hopefully, a Browns victory?