No game has more playoff implications this weekend than Steelers-Browns. With both teams at 6-3, getting to seven wins will put the winner in the driver’s seat to hold onto a Wildcard spot. How can the Steelers do that? These are the three keys to victory for Pittsburgh against Cleveland.
1. Continue starting fast
The Steelers’ offense in Weeks 1-8 was so bland, and so rinse and repeat. They failed to score an opening drive touchdown in any of their first seven games, but have scored on their last two opening drives. Setting the tone early against a Browns team that is starting a rookie quarterback in what will be just his second start would immediately put pressure on the Browns’ offense. Keep running the ball well, utilize Broderick Jones as a second-level blocker or as a puller- keep doing the things that are working. If Pittsburgh kicks off the game with an early 7-0 lead, I love their chances.
2. Establish long possessions
The Steelers lead the NFL in punts per drive, and they are 30th in the league in plays per drive. Pittsburgh is also 29th in the league in touchdowns per drive. They aren’t establishing any consistently long drives, and they aren’t getting the ball in the end zone nearly enough. Of course not every drive will result in points or a touchdown, but the Steelers aren’t even giving the bare minimum right now. Last week was a nice boost compared to what we have seen in the previous nine weeks, but is a third touchdown in a game too much to ask for? Cut down on the three and outs, give your defense a breather, and control the clock in the process.
3. Make Dorian Thompson-Robinson beat you
Dorian Thompson-Robinson was very fun to watch in the preseason. However, there is a large difference between looking good against the Jets’ third-stringers in August and having T.J. Watt chase you in November. While there is potential in the man they call DTR, the Steelers should do all they can to make him be the one who has to win the game. Admitedlly, that task will be much harder without Minkah Fitzpatrick in the lineup, as well as relying on depth at the linebacker spot without Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander. However, this is still a defensive front that can get a ton of pressure from their front line of defenders. send an extra rusher, sell out to stop the run- make the rookie in his second start have to make some throws to win the game.