Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! This is your one stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Preview, the Steeler’s Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Fantasy Football Impact, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, and the latest Injury Report. Heck, you even get the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
STEELERS OPEN 2018 SEASON AT CLEVELAND MINUS LE’VEON BELL
The Le’Veon Bell Saga continues as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to open the 2018 Season without one of the games best running backs.
Bell, who turned down a 5-year, $70 million dollar contract by the Steelers, has yet to sign his tender for the Franchise Tag placed upon him by the team. The Tag will be worth $14.5 million this year to Bell, which averages to almost 900k a game.
Bell’s teammates expected him to miss all of Training Camp and preseason games, but were looking for #26 to be ready for Week 1 vs the Browns.
Alas, Bell did not show up for work on day one of the practice week on Monday… or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday.
The inside of the locker-room was less than pleased.
“Honestly, it’s a little selfish,” center Maurkice Pouncey said after practice Wednesday. “I’m kind of (ticked) right now. It (stinks) that he’s not here. We’ll move on as a team. It doesn’t look like he’ll be in the game plan at this point (for Sunday against Cleveland). (James) Conner looks great. We’ll worry about (Bell) in Week 2. At this point, go ahead and miss 10.”
All players will back one another when it comes to getting paid, but when it comes to putting one’s self over the team, things tend to get a little dicey.
“Obviously, it’s Le’Veon over the Steelers,” Pouncey continued. “We are the Steelers. At this point, it’s bigger than business. Now that it’s game time and you have $14 million looming out there and your team really wants you here, at this point we have Conner.”
Pouncey believes James Conner can shoulder the load in Bell’s absence.
“A star is born every year. Maybe the stars will align for him this year.”
Pouncey wasn’t alone in the criticism of Bell.
“What do you do?” said guard Ramon Foster. “Here’s a guy who doesn’t give a damn, I guess, so we’ll treat it as such. I just hate it came to this. He’s making seven times what I made, twice as much as Al [Villanueva] is making, and we’re the guys who do it for him.”
“This is the ultimate team sport,’’ Foster said. “We get into a roll and we’re rolling with whoever is back there and we come into Week 8 and we’re 8-0 [and Bell reports], do we change up everything for him? Or do we ride it and [let him] find his way in. So there are a lot of questions behind that.”
Guard David DeCastro figured Bell would be back for week one, but when he didn’t show up…
“I think we’re all disappointed. What’s the expression? We’re stuck with our foot in our mouths. We all thought he’d be here.”
Ben Roethlisberger is ready to play, Bell, or no Bell.
“We’re focused on the Cleveland Browns right now,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve got to prepare myself to be as ready as I can be to go out there on Sunday and face a really good defense… (Bell) is one of the best in the business, so anytime you have a guy like that you want to have him on the field with you.”
Can the offense still thrive minus Bell?
“I think we’re a very good offense,” Big Ben said. “Football is the ultimate team sport. One person doesn’t make or break you, so I’d like to say that the linemen are more important than any skill position player, including myself, on this team. This offense is more than just one guy.”
“James has done a great job of it so far,” Roethlisberger said. “He gets to his spot really quick. That’s awesome for a quarterback, a guy who checks his protection and gets to his spot quick because you know he’s there and ready to get the ball. I think he’s worked a lot on his hands. He’s catching the ball really well right now. I’m excited for James probably as much as he’s excited for himself.”
Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, seemed to momentarily lose his mind during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, in which he said, “You’re Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin. You have possibly a once-in-a-generation player for one more season. What would your plan be?”
“When we find out,” Bakari continued, “I think Mike Tomlin said it best yesterday. He’ll get there when he gets there, and we’ll address those issues when he arrives.”
Basically, Bakari was indicating that an anticipated heavy workload is the reason his client is staying away.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and the Steelers were having none of it, releasing a memo that stated, “We are not going to discuss any conversations through the media. If Adisa (Bakari) would like to talk further, he has the phone number to our offices.”
Steelers Keys To Victory
- Attack Downfield
- Get Conner Involved Early
- Dominate Time of Possession
- Pressure Tyrod Taylor Into Mistakes
- Shutdown Browns Running Game
Keith Butler is eager to make amends after his defense was torched by Jacksonville in the season ending playoff loss last January.
“It’s been long enough,” Butler said Thursday. “It’s going to be interesting to see how we play. I’m kind of encouraged, but we’ll see what goes on on the field.”
Armed with new talent in Jon Bostic, Morgan Burnett and Terrell Edmunds, the Steelers look to return to playing their style of defense.
“We helped ourselves in the secondary,” Butler said. “The only thing that concerns me is we’ve missed a little bit of time here in the last two weeks with some crucial guys who are going to be playing on Sunday. We’ll see how we hold up.”
Artie Burns is looking forward to seeing what his younger teammate in Edmunds brings to the table, especially making his NFL debut.
“There’s a lot of emotions that go into it,” Burns said. “And I feel like (Edmunds) is going to do real good. He’s been training really good and looking good.”
Linebacker Bud Dupree is an Edmunds fan.
“Terrell learns things very fast,” Dupree said, “so I think he’ll go out and have a good game.”
Speaking of defense, the Browns know their chances of winning begin and end at Ben Roethlisberger, who is 21-2 lifetime vs the Browns.
“He is a multiple-time Super Bowl champion,” said the Browns Myles Garrett. “He has played on a high level consistently for years. You have to be able to respect greatness when you see it. I just have to seize the opportunity to usurp in that position. You have to be able to respect it, but do not be afraid of it and do not be afraid of that moment.”
Browns QB Tyrod Taylor is impressed with what he sees on tape against Pittsburgh.
“Very athletic group across the board at every position. It is going to boil down to us making sure that we are detailed in our execution, and of course, protecting the football and establishing the run to get everything else going. A very talented defense that we are going to face. It is going to boil down to our execution.”
Yes, the Steelers will be without Le’Veon Bell, but they one heck of a back-up plan in James Conner who can shoulder the load. Conner has battled through so much adversity in his life, and this is the payoff for him. Expect him to run with the chance, literally.
Then, of course, there is Ben Roetlhisberger, who is basically part owner of the Browns. With such a wide array of weapons at his disposal, which includes the league’s best WR in Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and rookie James Washington, the Steelers should have no problem putting points on the board this year. Big Ben will be without the services of TE Vance McDonald, so Jesse James will once again take the role of Roethlisberger’s safety blanket.
The Browns are getting better. It can’t get any worse than 0-16. They are a confident bunch heading into this game, but will soon be knocked back into reality as long as the Steelers don’t give it away with any mind-numbing turnovers. It’s expected to rain most of the day, which points to a lot of running, but it also gives the wideouts an extra advantage working in that type of environment, so look for another typical big day from Brown.
Defensively, the Steelers need to keep Tyrod Taylor in the pocket and limit any big escaping the pocket running plays from him. If they apply enough pressure (hello Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt) Taylor is known to make horrendous decisions throwing the ball.
Another Season Opener… another beating for the Browns.
Steelers 31 Browns 17
NFL Week 1
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Venue: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH.
Kickoff: Sunday, September 9th, at 1:00 pm
TV: CBS (KDKA-TV) | Announcers: Greg Gumbel (play-by-play) Trent Green and Bruce Arians (analysts) | Melanie Collins (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM/970 WBGG-AM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: N/A | Announcers:
Weather at Kickoff: 62 with a 80% chance of rain.
Vegas Line: Steelers -4.5
- Series History: Series began in 1950
- The Steelers are 72-58 in the overall Regular Season series against the Browns
- Steelers are 28-37 on the Road vs the Browns
- Streak: Steelers won previous six meetings
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Dec. 31, 2017, in Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh 28 Cleveland 24
- Steelers are 2-0 in the Post-Season vs the Browns
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 5, 2003, in Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh 36 Cleveland 33 | AFC Wild Card
- The Steelers look to improve to 73-58 all-time against the Browns in regular-season history, to 29-37 in road games at Cleveland and to 16-4 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
- With a win, the Steelers will have won each of their last seven regular-season road games, dating back to Oct. 1, 2017 at Baltimore.
- Ben Roethlisberger, with a win, would improve to 22-2 vs. Cleveland in the regular season as a starter and to 12-2 on the road against the Browns.
- Roethlisberger needs 411 passing yards to surpass John Elway (51,475) for seventh-most in NFL history.
- Antonio Brown is 90 receiving yards becoming the second player in franchise history with at least 10,000 (Hines Ward: 12,083)
- Brown, with 100 catches in 2018, will become the first player in NFL history to record 100 or more receptions in six consecutive years.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster will reach 1,000 career receiving yards with 83.
- J.J. Watt needs three sacks to reach 10 in his NFL career.
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
- Overall Record: 0-0
- Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (12th Season with Steelers)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 116-60 (.657)
- Playoff Record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)
- 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Roster
- Steelers Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Game: N/A
Scouting the Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is looking to have one his best seasons yet. Big Ben’s big arm, along with his uncanny ability to slip out of the pocket and extend plays makes him one one of the league’s best.
Le’Veon Bell is one of the league’s best backs. He is dynamic in both running and catching the ball out of the backfield. James Conner is more than capable of shouldering a starters share of carries. He has slimmed down and has added speed and quickness to an already powerful running style. Jaylen Samuels is an H-Back type of player that can line up all over the field. He is especially dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. Steven Ridley is a capable runner that can be counted upon on an as needed basis.
What more can you say about Antonio Brown? He is the league’s best wide receiver. His dedication and drive to be the best is unmatched by any player in the league. JuJu Smith-Schuster heads into his 2nd season and looks to make even more of an impact than he made as a rookie. Speaking of rookies, James Washington was a Camp favorite of Roethlisberger, and could quickly establish himself as a dangerous weapon in the slot as the 3rd receiver. Justin Hunter is a nice deep threat. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams. Ryan Switzer will see time in the pasing game at times, but his value is best used in the return game.
Jesse James is reliable as ever. Vance McDonald is looking to make a big impact in his 2nd year as a Steeler, looking to build off a 10-catch, 112-yard day in a postseason loss to the Jaguars. Xavier Grimble provides a big target for Roethlisberger in the Red Zone.
Up front, the Steelers deploy Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as their defensive ends. In the middle, Javon Hargrave and Daniel McCullers will rotate. Tyson Alualu and Kameron Canaday will see time at defensive end as well. L.T. Walton can play all three spots.
The linebacker unit goes Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt on the outside, with Vince Williams and Jon Bostic in the middle. Anthony Chickillo and Matthew Thomas back-up Dupree and Watt, while L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich are reserves in the middle.
In the secondary, Artie Burns and Joe Haden are the starters at cornerback. Backing them up will be Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, and Coty Sensabaugh. Rookie Terrell Edmunds starts at strong safety, with Morgan Burnett backing him up and seeing plenty of action in nickle and dime formations. Sean Davis is the starter yet again at free safety, with Nat Berhe and Marcus Allen as reserves.
- Ben Roethlisberger (0 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 0 sacks | 0 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Le’Veon Bell (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- James Conner (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jaylen Samuels (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Stevan Ridley (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Roosevelt Nix (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Antonio Brown (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Juju Smith-Schuster (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- James Washington (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Ryan Switzer (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Justin Hunter (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jesse James (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Vance McDonald (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Xavier Grimble (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 0-0 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: N/A)
A look at the Cleveland Browns!
- Overall Record: 0-0
- Head Coach: Hue Jackson (3rd Season with Browns)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 9-39 (.188) | 1-31 (.031) with Browns
- Playoff Record: 0-0 (Qualified for playoffs 0 times)
- 2018 Cleveland Browns Roster
- Browns Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: N/A
Scouting the Browns
Tyrod Taylor is the new starting QB for the Browns. We’ve lost count on how many different starters that now makes for Cleveland. Taylor has talent, but often makes bad decisions ending up as back-breaking turnovers. Taylor is a major threat to pull the ball down and take off running. Baker Mayfield is the starter in waiting…
Carlos Hyde is the starter with Nick Chubb spelling Hyde form time to time. Hyde is a pretty good runner that can do plenty of damage if you allow him. He had a career-high 1,288 scrimmage yards and eight rushing touchdowns with the San Francisco 49ers last season
Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon are the top two wideouts for the Browns. The duo will provide healthy options for Taylor at QB. Gordon can be a game-breaker if he stays clean and healthy. Rashard Higgins and Damion Ratley will be used as options as well.
The Browns have a talented duo of tight ends in Darren Fells and David Njoku.
They are improving, but by how much?
- Tyrod Taylor (0 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 0 sacks | 0 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Baker Mayfield (0 yards passing | 0 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 0 sacks | 0 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Carlos Hyde (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Nick Chubb (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jarvis Landry (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Josh Gordon (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Rashard Higgins (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Damion Ratley (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darren Fells (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- David Njoku (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Zane Gonzalez (Extra Point: 0-0 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: N/A)
Steelers – Browns: Offense vs Defense Match-Up
- Steelers Offense: Steelers average 0 YPG | Browns defense allows 0 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers average 0 YPG | Browns defense allows 0 YPG
- Passing: Steelers average 0 YPG | Browns defense allows 0 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers average 0 PPG | Browns defense allows 0 PPG
- Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 0 YPG | Browns offense averages 0 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers allow 0 YPG | Browns offense averages 0 YPG
- Passing: Steelers allow 0 YPG | Browns offense averages 0 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers allow 0 PPG | Browns offense averages 0 PPG
Injury Report (9/7/2018)
- Out: TE Vance McDonald (Foot)
- Out: LB J. Burgess (Concussion)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 9 @ Philadelphia W, 31-14 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 16 @ Green Bay L, 51-34 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 25 TENNESSEE W, 16-6 (KDKA/NFL Network)
Thursday, Aug. 30 CAROLINA W, 39-24 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (0-0)
Sunday, Sept. 9 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 16 KANSAS CITY 1 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Sept. 24 @ Tampa Bay 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Sept. 30 BALTIMORE 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Oct. 7 ATLANTA* 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Oct. 14 @ Cincinnati* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 21 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Oct. 28 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Nov. 4 @ Baltimore* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Thursday, Nov. 8 CAROLINA 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Nov. 18 @ Jacksonville* 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 25 @ Denver* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 2 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 9 @ Oakland* 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 16 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 23 @ New Orleans* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 30 CINCINNATI* 1 p.m. (CBS)
* – Times may change due to flexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 5-6 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 12-13 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 20 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 27 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 3 Super Bowl LIII (Atlanta, Ga.)
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.
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