By now, as NFL fans, we all should be well aware of the reality that nothing is free in this league. Any Given Sunday I think is what they say. So, when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field this coming Sunday, the defending Super Bowl champions will have to do more than just show up to secure their third straight victory and improve their record to 4-2. And even though Cleveland has been miserable for the most part this year, this is a rivalry game where you can usually throw records out the window. Furthermore, NFL caliber athletes don't concede their seasons after just 5 games. Cleveland may be just 1-4, but a win at Pittsburgh would give them plenty of reason to believe that they still have a chance to turn things around and get back in the AFC North and Wild Card pictures. Conversely, Pittsburgh has a great chance to put some of their early season mishaps behind them and improve their record to a sufficiently healthy mark of 4-2. The Steelers have also never lost more than 1 divisional game in a season during the Mike Tomlin era. They have their work cut out if they're going to extend that streak to a third consecutive year. It begins this Sunday at Heinz.
Yes the Browns have been one of the most uninspiring teams in the league so far this season. But to their credit, they've fought hard the past few weeks and were finally rewarded for their efforts with their first win of the year last Sunday. Cleveland defeated the Buffalo Bills 6-3 in one helluva sloppy and painful to watch contest, but like I said, they fought hard and stayed resilient despite being 0-3 and playing pathetically on offense for almost the entire game. Considering how respectably they played the previous week against Cincinnati - at least on the defensive side of the ball - you have to believe that Cleveland feels the worst is behind them and that greener pastures are ahead. Throw in the fact they're 1-0 without Braylon Edwards, and it's not unreasonable to think that the attitude and atmosphere in the Browns locker room is nowhere near as toxic as their performance or record might suggest.
Some facts, stats and other miscellaneous figures about the Browns can be found after the jump.
Cleveland By The Numbers:
Points/Game: 11.0 (30th)
Yards/Game: 248.4 (31st)
Rushing Yards/Game:106.2 (16th)
Passing Yards/Game: 142.2 (31st)
Football Outsiders Offensive DVOA Rank: 30th
Notable Personnel Additions (omissions on my end are likely):
Mike Furrey, WR (from Detroit Lions) - 13 receptions for 107 yards
John St. Clair, RT (from Chicago Bears) -should play Sunday with thumb injury; started 16 games for Chicago last year
Alex Mack, C (rookie) - Steelers fans learned plenty about Mack this past April leading up to the NFL Draft
Robert Royal, TE (from Buffalo Bills) - signed this offseason to help replace Kellen Winslow, Jr.
Mohamed Massaquo, WR (rookie) - breakout 8 reception game against Cincinnati in Week 4
Points/Game: 24.2 (23rd)
Yards/Game: 380.2 (29th)
Rushing Yards/Game:170.4 (32nd)
Passing Yards/Game: 209.8 (10th)
Football Outsiders Offensive DVOA Rank: 26th
Notable Personnel Additions:(again, I'm sure I'm missing a player or two)
Kenyon Coleman, DE (from New York Jets) - currently injured
C.J. Mosely, DT (from New York Jets) - filling in decently for the injured Coleman
Abram Elam, SS (from New York Jets) - notice a theme here with Mangini bringing over castaways from the Jets??
Eric Barton, ILB (from New York Jets)
Facts and Figures
- Cleveland is converting just 26 % of its 3rd down conversions. Only Kansas City (25%) and Oakland (21%) have fared worse.
- Cleveland has a turnover ratio of -5. That's tied for the 3rd worst mark in the league.
- Cleveland's two quarterbacks have combined to throw 8 inteceptions (D. Anderson 5; Brady Quinn 3). Only Carolina has thrown more.
- Derek Anderson completed just two passes in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Bills. The two completions were the fewest for a winning team since former Bengals quarterback Akili Smith's 2 for 9 day against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 22, 2000. Not good company to keep.
- The combined QB rating of Cleveland's two signal callers (50.2) edges out only the number posted by Jamarcus Russell in Oakland (48.3)
- On a more positive note, Cleveland is 9 of 9 in field goal attempts thus far, despite not having the services of team captain and veteran stalwart Phil Dawson the past three weeks.
- The Browns have had 347 defensive plays from scrimmage. Only Buffalo has had more (349). Talk about an offense 'that's not carrying its weight.
- Shaun Rodgers has added two more blocked kicks to his already staggering total heading in to this year. He now has 14 just five games through his 9th season. That's ridiculous. What a beast.
- The Browns have just 2 rushing plays longer than 20 yards and 0 rushing plays of 40+ yards. The Steelers, in case you were wondering, have 5 of 20+ but none of 40+.
- Through the air, Cleveland has just 8 passing plays of 20 or more yards and 0 that have gained 40. Pittsburgh has 17 and 3 respectively.
- Cleveland's longest pass play from scrimmage has been 30 yards. Yikes. No wonder Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow bitched and moaned their way out of town.
- Eric Mangini aka 'Boy Genius' has an amazingly pedestrian career record of 23-30 as an NFL head coach.