“Brown & Out?”

AFC Game Of The Week 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns 

Steelers: The losing streak has finally snapped! After a three-game skid. They finally got back in the win column. For a second, I thought a fourth loss was coming because the Colts were giving them all they could handle in the first half. Then came the second half and they hit the light switch. So I want to explain why the running game has been nonexistent. They don’t have the offensive line to put a hand down in the dirt and open those lanes because they are built to pass block. So, what do the Steelers do to get themselves back in the game? They reverted to the crossing routes over the middle which in return opened up the big play down the field. The defense finally got back to playing downhill which they weren’t doing during the losing streak. Now, they’ll close the season out in Cleveland.

Browns: Ten wins for the first time since 2007. That’s something to celebrate. Not necessarily. They had the perfect opportunity to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2002. However, they dropped the ball in week 16 to the New York Jets of all teams. So, let me get this straight? You lose your top three wide receivers in Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Rashard Higgins for the game. You’d think the Browns would rely on their bread and butter which is running the football. They didn’t and for that, I blame Kevin Stefanski. There’s no way Baker Mayfield should have thrown the football 53 times when he has the best tandem of backs in the league but the Jets forced him to beat them. Now, Cleveland is still a game away from clinching a playoff spot. They’ll welcome the Steelers to town on Sunday.

Steelers X-Factor: Eric Ebron– He’s another weapon at Ben’s disposal. This is the one weapon that can work in the middle of the field to help open things. Eric is at his best in the red area of the field. Look for the Steelers to find that best possible mismatch to exploit using their tight end.

Browns X-Factor: Olivier Vernon– This is the guy who plays alongside Myles Garrett. He’s a force when healthy. Olivier is the other pass rusher that can create when Myles commands double and triple teams. Watch the Browns to throw him at Ben in different ways to get him off his rhythm.

Final Thoughts: Both teams still have something to play for. The Steelers are hoping to win and become the two seed in the AFC while the Browns just need to win and they’re in. Whoever would’ve imagined this? For the Steelers, continue to use those crossing patterns over the middle of the field. Work in the middle. The Browns need to find some way to get their running game going. Revert to what got you in playoff positioning! Run the football!

Prediction: Steelers 28 Browns 23

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