The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their final game of the season in Cleveland on Sunday. With the AFC North already clinched and a playoff spot locked up the Steelers will turn to a number of back up players. The Browns on the other hand are playing for their playoff lives. With a loss and some help the Browns could find themselves out of the playoffs all together. The Browns will be desperate and the Steelers have nothing to lose. The question of the game will be whether the Browns can rise to the occasion or crumble under the pressure.
1:00 PM EST Sunday, the Steelers will return to the scene of the assault of Mason Rudolph, when they kick off in Cleveland’s first energy stadium. The Steelers hold the all time series lead against the Browns 77-59-1 and are currently on a two game winning streak. Starting quarterback Mason Rudolph is 1-1 in his career against the Browns, having lost in his loan start in Cleveland.
Browns Best Player
All eyes will be on Myles Garrett on Sunday but not just because he is one of the best players in the NFL today. This will be the first time Garrett lines up against Mason Rudolph since the former bashed Rudolph over the head with his own helmet. With multiple offensive lineman expected to be out Myles Garrett should, in theory, have a big game. The NFL will not let the incident that happened last year re-occur in this game but the storyline will be the big fat elephant in the room.
Weakest position group
No, not Denzel Ward but the position that he will be leaving vacated. Ward has been placed on the Browns Covid-19 list and his back up, Kevin Johnson was also placed on the Covid reserve list and will not play against the Steelers. The Browns have a massive hole at corner that Mason Rudolph has tp exploit if the Steelers are going to be the victor. With Greedy Williams already on the injured reserve the Browns will have to turn to a quartet of practice squad/back-up players to shoulder the load.
Kevin Stefanski is probably the best first year head coach in football, and had his Browns not choked against the Jets I would confidently tell you he is the coach of the year front runner. This guy is a great head coach, and will be a thorn in the side of the Steelers for years to come. He has built a strong culture in Cleveland, which honestly no man has ever been able to do before. The Steelers need to be ready to go each and every time they have to play a Stefanski led team.
How will the Browns attack the Steelers defense
With the amount of staters out due to rest, and now Joe Haden due to Covid, the Browns should be successful with however they want to move the football. But considering the one man that could prevent Cleveland from winning this game is their quarterback, Baker Mayfield. I would expect the Steelers to get a healthy dose of both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. If the Browns find themselves with any sort of lead I would further anticipate the Browns to abandon the passing game altogether. No need for Mayfield to fumble this game away like he did last week in New York.
How will the Browns defend the Steelers offense
This is really hard to say considering how many bodies will be missing for the Steelers. I would assume the Browns will crowd the line of scrimmage and send heavy pressure at Mason Rudolph on nearly every play. Finding guys like Chase Claypool on quick routes could force the Browns to back up however.
One thing to keep in mind is the Browns will be with out two of their best corners but also will be without a starting and back up linebacker due to Covid-19 as well. B.J. Goodson, and Malcolm Smith will not participate this week. With two glaring holes on their defense the Steelers should find some success in targeting those spots on the field.
Baker Mayfield can single handedly cost the Browns this game. He could also throw five touchdowns and tell everyone he was feeling dangerous. Bottom line is if the Steelers can find a way to put points on the board early, they can force Baker Mayfield into throwing the ball more. The more the ball is in his hands and not Nick Chubb’s the greater the odds of that ball being turned over. Another poor performance against the Steelers on Sunday might cost Mayfield his fifth year option, and cost the Browns a playoff spot.
Sunday, 1:00PM EST. We will see if Mason Rudolph and the Steelers can put an end to the Browns season once and for all.