NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns Preview

Pittsburgh Steelers

Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! NGSC Sports is where you come to find everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation) brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a game story, Steelers keys to success, score prediction, game information, a detailed breakdown of each team, individual stats, team stats, and team injury reports. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

Steelers defense looking for a little payback vs Browns

When mentioning the word “rivals” the Cleveland Browns have been pretty far down the list since the mid-90’s.

Yes, there is no love lost between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, but it’s kind of hard to call someone a rival when you thump your opponent over, and over, and over again. Since 1999, the Steelers are 34-7-1 vs the Browns.

The bug does not have a rivalry with the windshield… and the Steelers, like the windshield, always wins when it comes to the Browns.

On November 14th, the bug finally put a crack in the windshield, as the Browns defeated the Steelers 21-7. All it took for the Browns was the Steelers to be minus Ben Roethlisberger, Stephen Tuitt, and Benny Snell. Lost during the game was Juju Smith-Shuster and Diontae Johnson to head hunting hits by the Browns defense. James Conner re-injured his shoulder within a few series. Oh, and Mason Rudolph has his worst game of his career, tossing four interceptions.

Yet, there were the Steelers, only down a score for much of the 2nd half.

Their resiliency has been amazing, to say the least.

Oh, and lest we forget the whole Myles Garrett vs Rudolph incident at the end of the game.

Last week vs Cincinnati, Rudolph continued to struggle, which prompted Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin to bench Rudolph, and insert Devlin Hodges into the game. As he did during his appearances against the Ravens and Chargers, Hodges seemed poised in the pocket, doing just enough to give the team a chance to win.

He had the Ravens beat if it weren’t for a fumble by Smith-Schuster in OT. The Steelers were just a few yards away from Chris Boswell’s range and a rousing win. He outplayed future HOF QB Phillip Rivers on the road in LA.

Last week, in the first series he entered the game, he zipped a ball 40 yards downfield to James Washington who took the ball in stride, and rumbled into the end-zone after punking a Bengals defender.

Now Hodges has a chance to add to his lore, as the Steelers have a huge chance to exact some revenge against Cleveland, whom if they beat, will have their playoff hopes on the intersection of slim and none.

One thing is for sure, you can expect a physical, hard hitting affair when these two teams hook up Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.

Just don’t look for any dirty tactics by Pittsburgh.

“We’re never the initiators of that,” said Steelers guard Ramon Foster, of tempers flaring. “Look back and see, I don’t think so. People always want to get their rocks off against us. For whatever reason if that’s how they feel, so be it. We’re not going to be the idiots getting penalties this weekend, I know that for sure.”

The crowd will be loud and boisterous, and the defense will be hungry to appease them, but they will do it the right way.

“We’re all professionals. We know how to carry ourselves. We’re grown men,” Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “We’re going to put emotions aside, hard feelings aside, everything else aside. It might put a little more fuel in the fire, obviously, but I don’t think there’ll be any unnecessary actions like there were the first game.”

Do look for the Steelers to jump start the rushing attack behind the capable legs of Benny Snell.

“Oh, man, you talk about the spark,” Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. “Now, we can talk about the real spark.”

Snell ran for a career high 98 yards last week vs Cincinnati. Now he is hungry for more.

“His spark (was) just in his run demeanor,” Fichtner said. “The idea of coming back from injury and not blinking from the first time he stepped on the practice field through the game. Man, he ran with strength. He ran with power. I think he’ll feel better in time.”

Also look for Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, and Kerrith Whyte to see carries at various series in the game.

“We were going to try and share as many reps as possible because you didn’t want to overload him,” Fichtner said about Snell. “I think the situation kind of called, and he kept begging. When he’s begging, you feel good. … There’s a confidence level there that he shared with us.”

Snell is welcoming as many carries as he can get, as he feels stronger as the game goes deeper into the clock.

“I feel like that is one of my best attributes,” Snell said. “I feel like I get better as the game goes on.”

The offensive line has Snell’s back, and they are excited to provide Snell with a few holes to burst through, and take advantage of a poor Browns run defense.

“I love his tenacity,” Foster said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s refreshing. I told him at practice that I love what you do. In the sense of a young guy, when he runs, good or bad, he’s jaw-jacking a little bit. Nothing malicious. It’s cool to see him excited to play football in this day and age when people are trying to attack the game in negative ways. He’s the way that I remember it in the sense that he’s gritty. I love it.”

 

Steelers Keys to Success

  1. Duck Season- It’s Devlin Hodges to the rescue… the team isn’t asking him to be the superstar. He just needs to be smart, make  good decisions, and not turn the ball over.
  2. Run the damn ball! We are hungry for some Benny Snell Football. The kid is running with confidence and looks like he is getting better week. It will be his show Sunday afternoon.
  3. Utilize Jaylen Samuel’s talents- Samuels is versatile… he can line up at running back, wide receiver, and tight end. Try to give him some mismatches, especially in open space, to take advantage of, from slower Browns defenders trying to cover him.
  4. Punish Baker Mayfield… Hit him early and often. Pressure is a must to force a few turnovers. Try to keep him in the pocket and away from running to his right as he likes to do.

 

Prediction

It is supposed to be a rainy morning leading up to kickoff at 1:00 p.m. at Heinz Field. Those conditions should point the Steelers in the direction of playing physical, run first offense, a staple of Steelers football history.

Devlin Hodges will be looking to remain poised and confident while manning the passing attack. His biggest job will be not turning the ball over.

That doesn’t mean playing purely conservatively.

“It just goes back to being prepared, taking what the defense gives you,” Hodges said after practice Wednesday. “Our ‘D’ is playing really good right now, so just not turning the ball over is (the goal). We want to go and score every drive, but at the same time, it’s about taking care of the ball and doing what it takes to win.”

Hodges knows not many football experts give him a chance to be successful in this league.

“I don’t have anything to lose,” Hodges said. “I was undrafted.”

He’s heard it all before.

“I won’t change who I am,” Hodges said. “I go out there and have fun, compete, play hard and try to do whatever it takes to win each and every week. I won’t look ahead. I’m just looking forward to this week and playing the Browns.”

One thing is for sure… the offense, from the lineman to the coaches are confident in Hodges abilities, no matter what the so-called experts say.

“He plays with a lot of confidence, for sure,” Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. “You wouldn’t be able to tell he’s from a small school. He has played against big schools when he was at a small school. He plays with a sense of ease, and he plays with a sense of rhythm. He’s been good when we’ve asked him to be for us.”

Now all he has to do is lead the Steelers to a huge victory, solidifying their hold on the #6 seed in the AFC, and likely knocking the Browns out of playoff contention.

Mike Tomlin is asking for just one thing from Hodges…

“There’s going to be enough pressure on Devlin in just performing so I’m not going to add to it by talking about expectations,” Tomlin said. “I expect him to not kill us.”

Even with the Steelers missing several key players, when it comes to the Browns… well, remember the scene in Full Metal Jacket, when Gunnery Sgt. Hartman asks Private Joker if he has a ‘war face’, and Joker screams out loud, but Sgt. Hartman is hardly impressed saying, “You don’t scare me! Work on it!”?

That’s the Browns to me, they just don’t scare me, so they are just going to have to prove it to me.

I see a very motivated Steelers defense coming out in this game and laying some hard hits to set the tone. I like Hodges to manage the game taking what the Browns are giving, while Snell and the offensive line take control of the trenches.

It won’t be pretty, but “Steelers Football” rarely is. There will be no Cleveland sweep for the first time since 1988. There will be one team moving forward, and one team planning on next year at the end of this one.

The Steelers hold on and put the Browns out to pasture.

Steelers 20 Browns 14

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Game Day Information

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.

Field: Natural Grass

Game-time: Sunday, December 1st, at 1:00 pm ET

TV: CBS (Local on KDKA-TV)

  • Announcers: Ian Eagle  (play-by-play) Dan Fouts (analyst) Evan Washburn (reporter)

Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE & WBGG 970 AM

  • Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) Craig Wolfley (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)

Internet Broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com

Weather at Kickoff: Partly Cloudy. 52 with winds 10 mph SSW.

Vegas Line: Cleveland -2

NFL Standings / NFL Scoreboard

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns History

Series History: Began in 1950

Steelers are 73-59-1 overall vs Browns

  • At Home: 45-21
  • On Road: 28-38-1
  • Post-Season: 2-0
  • Streak: Browns won the last game.
  • Last Regular Season Meeting: Nov. 14, 2019, in Cleveland (Browns 21 Steelers 7)
  • Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 5, 2003, in Pittsburgh
    (Pittsburgh 36, Cleveland 33) – AFC Wild Card

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Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall Record: 6-5

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (13th Season with Steelers)

  • Overall Regular Season Record: 131-71-1 (.641)
  • Playoff Record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)

2019 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster

Steelers Team Statistics

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Schedule 

Last Game: Steelers 16 Bengals 10

 

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Devlin Hodges*

The former Samford quarterback showed no fear when he was forced into action vs the Ravens, Chargers, and Bengals. When he is in, he just goes with the flow.

Passing Yards: 318

  • TD Passes: 2 / Interceptions: 1
  • Sacks: 2

Yards Rushing: 29

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Mason Rudolph

Yes, this is Rudolph’s first season being a starter with Big Ben out, but he has not grabbed the job by the reigns. Lack of confidence and bad pocket presence has hampered his game significantly.

Passing Yards: 1,636

  • TD Passes: 12 / Interceptions: 9
  • Sacks: 14

Yards Rushing: 43

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

 

Running Backs

Benny Snell, Jr.*

Takes over starting duties with Conner injured. Looking more confident each week.

Yards Rushing: 216

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 2

  • Yards Receiving: 19 / Receiving TD’s: 0

James Conner (Injured)

Down year after a Pro Bowl season. On the sidelines with injuries way too much.

Yards Rushing: 390

  • Rushing TD’s: 4

Receptions: 30

  • Yards Receiving: 242 / Receiving TD’s: 2

Jaylen Samuels

Athletic player who can play several positions. Dangerous as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Yards Rushing: 121

  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Receptions: 37

  • Yards Receiving: 212 / Receiving TD’s: 1

Trey Edmunds

Yards Rushing: 92

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 5

  • Yards Receiving: 41 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Kerrith Whyte

Yards Rushing: 43

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 0

  • Yards Receiving: 0 / Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Juju Smith-Schuster (Injured)

Smith-Schuster has struggled this season without Roethlisberger at the helm.

Receptions: 38

  • Receiving Yards: 524 / Receiving TD’s: 3

Diontae Johnson*

Talented rookie who makes the most of every reception. Blessed with wicked moves in open space.

Receptions: 35

  • Receiving Yards: 409 / Receiving TD’s: 3

James Washington*

He was ready to have a breakout season and establish himself as a big-time playmaker in the NFL. Has shown signs of life the past few weeks.

Receptions: 26

  • Receiving Yards: 467 / Receiving TD’s: 2

Tevin Jones

Receptions: 3

  • Receiving Yards: 33 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Johnny Holton

Steelers deep threat, but has only one catch.

Receptions: 1

  • Receiving Yards: 22 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Deon Cain

Receptions: 1

  • Receiving Yards: 35 / Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Vance McDonald*

The Vanimal, when unleashed, is a sight to see. Unfortunately, he has not played up to expectations this season.

Receptions: 29

  • Receiving Yards: 221
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Nate Vannett

The Ohio State product was acquired from the Seahawks earlier this season.

Receptions: 6

  • Receiving Yards: 63
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

Left Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva

Left Guard: B.J. Finney/Ramon Foster

Center: Maurkice Pouncey

Right Guard: David DeCastro

Right Tackle: Matt Feiler

 

DEFENSE (Base 3-4)

Defensive End: Cam Heyward

Defensive Tackle: Javon Hargrave/Dan McCullers

Defensive End: Tyson Alualu

Left OLB: T.J. Watt

Left MLB: Devin Bush/Mark Baron

Right MLB: Vince Willams

Right OLB: Bud Dupree

Cornerback: Joe Haden

Strong Safety: Terrell Edmunds

Free Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick

Cornerback: Steven Nelson/Artie Burns

Nickle: Mike Hilton/Cameron Sutton

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Chris Boswell

Extra Points: 20-20

FG: 18-20

  • 0-19: 1-1 / 20-29:  8-8 / 30-39: 4-4 / 40-49:  7-8 / 50+:  1-2
  • Long: 51

Punter

Jordan Berry

Yards per Punt: 46.3

 

Kickoff Returners

Johnny Holton

Yards per Kickoff Return: 18.3

  • Return TD’s: 0

 

Punt Returner

Cameron Sutton

Yards per Kickoff Return: 8.0

  • Return TD’s: 0

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Scouting the Cleveland Browns

Overall Record: 5-6

Head Coach: Freddy Kitchens (1st Season with Browns)

  • Overall Regular Season Record: 5-6 / 5-6 with Browns
  • Playoff Record: 0-0 (Qualified for playoffs 1 times)

2019 Cleveland BrownsTeam Roster

Cleveland Team Statistics

Last Game: Browns 41 Dolphins 24

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Baker Mayfield*

Majorly underachieving in his sophomore season. Provides more turnovers than a bakery, but has picked it up the last three weeks.

Passing Yards: 2,721

  • TD Passes: 14
  • Interceptions: 13
  • Sacks: 27

Yards Rushing: 82

  • Rushing TD’s: 2

 

Running Backs

Nick Chubb*

Browns offensive MVP… gets the tough yards and is excellent catching passes out of the backfield.

  • Yards Rushing: 1,117
  • Rushing TD’s: 7

Receptions: 30

  • Yards Receiving: 224
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Kareem Hunt

Yards Rushing: 79

  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Receptions: 15

  • Yards Receiving: 99
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham, Jr.* 

Not living up to the hype he should be providing.

Receptions: 54

  • Receiving Yards: 776
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Jarvis Landry*

Leads the team in receptions and touchdown catches.

Receptions: 59

  • Receiving Yards: 843
  • Receiving TD’s: 5

Dontrell Hilliard

Receptions: 11

  • Receiving Yards: 88
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Ricky Seals-Jones*

Receptions: 9

  • Receiving Yards: 155
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Demetrius Harris

Receptions: 12

  • Receiving Yards: 112
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

*Denotes Starter

 

DEFENSE (Base 4-3)

The Browns have some talent, but it has been up and down. They are allowing 24.6 points per game and can be had on the ground, as they give up over 134 yards per game. Good pass rush, generating 26 sacks on the year so far.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Austin Seibert

Extra Points: 21-24

FG: 18-21

  • 0-19: 0-0 / 20-29: 6-6 / 30-39: 6-6 / 40-49: 6-8 / 50+: 0-1
  • Long: 55

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Injury Report (11/29/19)

Pittsburgh

  • Out: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Concussion/Knee)
  • Doubtful: RB James Conner (Shoulder)
  • Questionable: CB Artie Burns (Knee)

Cleveland

  • Out: DB Eric Murray (Knee)
  • Doubtful: N/A
  • Questionable: WR KhaDarel Hogde (Achilles), OT Greg Robinson (Concussion), DE Olivier Vernon (Knee)

______________________________________

Offensive Stats

Total yards per game 

  • Pittsburgh: 296.1
  • Cleveland: 370.7

Passing yards per game

  • Pittsburgh: 212.9
  • Cleveland: 246.8

Rushing yards per game

  • Pittsburgh: 83.2
  • Cleveland: 123.9

Points per game

  • Pittsburgh: 21.4
  • Cleveland: 19

 

Defensive Stats

Total Yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 332.2
  • Cleveland: 356

Passing Yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 226.9
  • Cleveland: 221.1

Rushing Yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 105.9
  • Cleveland: 134.9

Points Allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 20.1
  • Cleveland: 24.6

Sacks

  • Pittsburgh: 33
  • Cleveland: 26

Interceptions

  • Pittsburgh: 14
  • Cleveland: 4

Fumbles Recovered

  • Pittsburgh: 11
  • Cleveland: 7

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
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.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

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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