It's tougher to do this when it seems like just last week when these teams last played each other. On the other hand, the Browns appear to be drastically different in many ways.
One somewhat unexpected trait they've developed is a nasty offensive line. We all know Joe Thomas, a regular member of this running feature, and certainly he counts as a nominee. We're going to add the rookie, Joel Bitonio to that list as well. The guard position is becoming much more athletic than it ever has been, and Bitonio, simply put, can move. He's strong, agile, and quickly emerging as one of the top guards in a division where each team has at least one high-level guard.
The Browns are favored in this game, probably due to home-field advantage and the strength of their collective, offensive line. Watch out for this in Week 6 and watch out for it the rest of the season.
Also on the offensive side of the ball, Andrew Hawkins, the former Bengal, has done well. He always has been a quiet favorite of mine, and he's continuing to show why.
Still, suspension or otherwise, I'd roll the dice with Josh Gordon. That sentiment may be lessened a bit today, as opposed to last year when he was the pick for this column before both games (actually, Thomas was probably the pick for the first game this season as well). There comes a point when you simply have to take the risk the kid will find a way to keep himself out of trouble. You can deal with the consequences, but winning is much easier with a player of his caliber on the field.
And what about Brian Hoyer? The narrative of him being a former Steeler is probably a bit old by now, but one of the main reasons I said the Browns shouldn't bother with Johnny Manziel is because Hoyer shows flashes of outstanding potential. He's still growing as a player, too. His confidence and accuracy are outstanding. I might take him just to not have to watch him continue to develop elsewhere.
Terrence West? Isaiah Crowell? Yes, please.
Defensively, the Browns may be a little lesser developed than I figured they would be, but it's still a talented group. While I decided against Justin Gilbert in the draft, and his play on the field is justifying that, Joe Haden is still their main cornerback (despite the hip injury he currently has). He has had a rough year, with Antonio Brown contributing significantly to his experience. Still, Haden is an excellent all-around player. He'll get healthy and he'll play great football at some point.
Jabaal Sheard has always been fun to watch. One of those explosion guys in a smaller frame, he's relentless. But as far as the front-seven goes, Barkevious Mingo oozes talent and he's starting to pack on some weight. I figured he'd be something of a project and he's still developing. Overall, on defense, Paul Kruger is quickly ascending the ranks to Steelers-Killers Hall of Fame status, and his pass rush would be nice to have right about now.
Which Browns player would you want on the Steelers' roster?