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Steeler Nation is a world-wide army that lives and dies with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Six-Time Super Bowl Champions are a franchise whose tradition dictates a standard of excellence, and their fans expect nothing less year in and year out. Those very same ideals translate to the ultimate Pittsburgh Steelers GameDay Preview, a guide that all Pittsburgh fans read weekly to learn everything they need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Pittsburgh SportsNation, aka Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation), who covers both Pitt football and the Steelers for NGSC Sports, brings you inside the huddle for both teams with the Keys to Victory, The Game Scoop and score prediction, Game Day Information, a detailed breakdown of each team and starting line-ups, and an up to date team injury report. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) vs Cleveland Browns (7-9)

NFL Week 18

Game-time: Sunday, January 8th, 1:00 PM

  • Vegas line: Pittsburgh -2

Venue: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA.

  • Field: Kentucky Blue Grass

Keys to Victory

Offense

  • Give me 20: The Steelers defense hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in seven out of their last eight games, and are giving up an average of just 14.6 in the last six, SO… the magic number for the Pittsburgh offense is to put 20 points up on the board, and Pittsburgh will likely win their 9th game. To boot, since Deshaun Watson returned, the Browns are scoring a paltry 14 points per game.
  • Touchdowns, not field goals: As has been expressed over and over, this offense has to end drives with touchdowns instead of getting field goals. Once this team figures out how to accomplish this, especially with the way the defense is playing, they could be quite dangerous to face if they advance to the postseason.

Defense

  • Be physical: The Browns aren’t going to finesse the Steelers, unless they are out of their minds… this team is built to be carried upon the legs of Nick Chubb, opening up the passing game for Deshaun Watson to hit Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and David Njoku downfield. This game will be won in the trenches, and the front seven will have bring their level of physicality up, and swarm to the ball. Keeping Watson in the pocket with endless pressure could result in some choice turnovers that could alter the outcome of the game.

 

The Game Scoop

One of the most incredible seasons in Pittsburgh history will either come to an end this Sunday afternoon, or miraculously continue into the playoffs, after the Steelers (8-8) face off against the Cleveland Browns (7-9) at Acrisure Stadium in the Steel City.

Once dead in the water at 2-6, the Steelers have won six of eight games, including back to back, come from behind, game winning drives led by Kenny Pickett over the Raiders and Ravens. Every other domino that the Steelers needed to fall in order for them to be alive in Week 18 has also happened.

In the final week of the season, for Pittsburgh to make the playoffs as the #7 seed, they first have to beat Cleveland, then need Buffalo to defeat New England, and for the New York Jets to beat Miami.

The once beleaguered offensive line, which many considered the biggest weakness heading into the year, has jelled to become quite a force the 2nd half of the season.

Since bye, the Steelers have played eight games, and in those contests, the team is averaging 146.3 yards per game, and in December, have been giving up just one sack a game.

“We just have guys that really just care about getting better,” right guard James Daniels said, “and that’s all they do every day is they come in and think about how they can help, how they can be a better employee of the Steelers organization.”

Najee Harris recorded his first 100 yard game of the year last week against Baltimore, and needs just 46 yards vs the Browns to go over 1,000 for this season.

“I just think there’s confidence,” Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada said. “All of this is encompassing. Where you are, and the numbers have changed, it’s all 11. It’s 11 men doing their job. One guy does the wrong thing and the play looks incredibly awful. I think all 11 guys are firing on the same cylinder. That, in turn, develops trust with Naj. He’s hitting the hole. He’s seeing the hole. I do think it was a little bit of his health. He would say that. He’s a tough guy that was playing.”

Though the running game has been resurgent, and despite the late game heroics by Pickett, the Steelers know that they must start ending drives in the endzone, as opposed to settling for field goals.

“We had five opportunities drive-wise to score, we’ve got to score touchdowns,” Canada said. “It’s first-and-goal at the 2, we’ve got to score a touchdown there. We had first-and-10 at the 15. We had two runs – as well as we ran the ball – we didn’t hit those quite as well as we wanted to.

“We’ve got to score touchdowns. We’re happy with the two-minute drives the last two games. It says a lot about (quarterback) Kenny (Pickett). It says a lot about everybody. When we’ve got to go down and win a game, Kenny’s the leader. It says a lot about the whole offense, they stick together. Two really big drives that say a lot about the growth of a really young group.”

It’s likely that the Browns will be without defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, whom the team sent home on Friday after criticizing the coaching staff.

“We just want volunteers, not hostages,” defensive end Myles Garrett said Friday.

It was of Garret that Clowney was unhappy with that lead to him being sent home.

“You’re all trying to get somebody into the Hall of Fame when all that matters is winning,” Clowney told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “Everybody got here for a reason, and we can all make plays. I know I am.”

Clowney was referring to the defensive staff giving Garrett the choice match-ups to garner his 15 sacks to Clowney’s two.

“Did I know he was unhappy? I knew he was frustrated,” Garrett said. “We have all been frustrated with not winning. I know he wants to produce more. Hell, I want to produce more. We all want to do more. You all feel like you can do more, especially when you are not winning. Everyone feels that when you come in here and the result stays the same or you give up one that you feel like you could have gotten. Everyone has that sense of disappointment and regret for some plays, and everyone handles it a different way.”

With Clowney out, that should allow Najee Harris and the offense to continue their power running game, and be able to control the ball and wear down Cleveland’s defense. If the Steelers are able to run the ball effectively as they have been, one would hope for Matt Canada to call some play action, and allow Kenny Pickett to hit some splash plays downfield to Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, and find Pat Friermuth open across the middle. of the field.

Even a well timed AND executed screen could be very big in what will be a dogfight into the 4th quarter.

With a raucous crowd expected at Acrisure Stadium in the Steelers home finale for this season, you’d love to see the Steelers bring it all together on offense and defense for just one game, and blow the doors off of the Browns, but you can all but expect this game to be won by the team that runs the ball well, plays good defense, and doesn’t turn the ball over.

Will the Steelers be playing next week vs the Bengals or Bills? We shall see, but in this game, the Steelers will do their part to make it happen, and finish the regular season on a three game win streak.

Prediction: Steelers 24 Browns 16

Game Day Information

TV: CBS (Local: KDKA-TV)

  • Announcers: Greg Gumble (play-by-play) Adam Archuleta (analyst) | A.J. Ross (sideline)

Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM & 970 WBGG-AM

  • Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Craig Wolfley (analyst) | Max Starks (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)

National Radio: N/A

  • Announcers: N/A (play-by-play) N/A (analyst)

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

 

Weather at kickoff: Partly Cloudy and 40. Winds out of the East at 5 mph.

NFL Links

 

Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall record: 8-8 (3rd in AFC North)

Last game: Steelers 16 Ravens 13

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin

  • 15th Season with Steelers
  • Overall regular-season record: 162-93-2
  • Playoff record: 8-9 (Qualified for playoffs 10 times)

Team Links

 

Steelers Offense

Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 17.5
  • Total yards per game: 337.2
  • Passing yards per game: 216.6
  • Rushing yards per game: 120.6

 

Quarterback

Kenny Pickett | #8

The first round pick from Pitt is getting better with each week, this despite being in a poorly designed offense by Matt Canada. Pickett has led two straight game winning drives for Pittsburgh, and has clearly established himself as the new franchise quarterback of the Steelers.

  • Passing Yards: 2,209 | TD Passes: 6 | INT’s: 9 | Sacked: 26
  • Rushing Yards: 236 | Rushing TD’s: 3

Back-up: Mitch Trubisky | #10

  • Passing Yards: 1,252 | TD Passes: 4 | INT’s: 5 | Sacked: 11
  • Rushing Yards: 38 | Rushing TD’s: 2

 

Running Backs

Najee Harris | #22

After a start slowed by a foot injury, Harris has upped his game and is playing like a man possessed now that he is healthy. Recorded his first 100 yard game of the season vs the Ravens in week 17.

  • Rushing Yards: 954 | Rushing TD’s: 6
  • Receptions: 40 | Receiving Yards: 219 | Receiving TD’s: 3

Jaylon Warren | #30

Good change of pace back when he comes in for relief of Harris. Runs hard and hits the hole going downhill. If Harris is ever out, would get the majority of carries.

  • Rushing Yards: 343 | Rushing TD’s: 1
  • Receptions: 25 | Receiving Yards: 207 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Benny Snell | #44

  • Rushing Yards: 90 | Rushing TD’s: 1
  • Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 17 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Derek Watt | #44 (Fullback)

  • Rushing Yards: 20 | Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 5 | Receiving Yards: 11 | Receiving TD’s: 1

 

Wide Receivers

Diontae Johnson | #18

Isn’t having the type of production you’d expect from an 18 million dollar a year receiver, but Matt Canada’s offense fails to put him in position to succeed. Has yet to find the endzone in 2022. Leads the team in catches and receiving yards.

  • Receptions: 84 | Receiving Yards: 844 | Receiving TD’s: 0

George Pickens | #14

Has all the talent you could ask for… now the Steelers have to find a way to get him the ball more consistently, especially downfield and in the endzone.

  • Receptions: 49 | Receiving Yards: 729 | Receiving TD’s: 3

Steven Sims | #13

Sims has become a reliable option for Pickett as the season has progressed.

  • Receptions: 14 | Receiving Yards: 104 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 Myles Boykin | #82

  • Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 11 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Gunner Olszewski | #89

  • Receptions: 5 | Receiving Yards: 53 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Pat Friermuth | #88

Emerging as one of the better tight ends in the game. 2nd on the team with 63 receptions and is 2nd on the team in receiving.

  • Receptions: 63 | Receiving Yards: 732 | Receiving TD’s: 2

Zach Gentry | #81

  • Receptions: 18 | Receiving Yards: 109 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Conner Heyward | #83

  • Receptions: 9 | Receiving Yards: 106 | Receiving TD’s: 1

*Injured/Out

 

Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)

Defensive Stats

  • Points per game allowed: 20.8
  • Total offense yards per game allowed: 331.9
  • Passing yards allowed: 225.4
  • Rushing yards allowed: 106.5
  • Sacks: 33
  • Interceptions: 18

 

Defensive Starters

DE: Cam Heyward #97 | DT: Montravius Adams #57 | DE: Larry Ogunjobi #99

  • The leader of Pittsburgh’s defense, Cam Heyward, has 66 tackles and 8.5 sacks. 

OLB: T.J. Watt #90 | ILB: Robert Spillane #41 | ILB: Myles Jack #51| OLB: Alex Highsmith #56

  • Highsmith leads the team with 12 sacks. Jack leads the team with 100 tackles, but hasn’t played a full game in weeks. Bush is 3rd on the team with 81 tackles, but his subpar play has seen Robert Spillane take over as the starter. 2021 Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt has 36 tackles, five sacks and two INT’s.

CB: Arthur Maulet #35 | SS: Terrell Edmunds #34 | FS: Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 | CB: Cameron Sutton #20

  • Fitzpatrick is 2nd on the team with 86 tackles, and a team leading six interceptions. Sutton has three INT’s, as does Wallace. Damontae Kazee will see plenty of snaps and has 17 tackles and one interception. Edmunds is 6th on the team with 65 tackles and one INT.

 

Steelers Special Teams

Placekicker

Chris Boswell | #9

Usually one of the best clutch kickers in the game, a mid-season injury and some bad weather have seen some kicks go astray. 

  • Extra Points: 16-16
  • Field Goals: 18-26
  • 1-19 yards: 0-0
  • 20-29 yards: 4-4
  • 30-39 yards: 3-4
  • 40-49 yards: 4-9
  • 50+ yards: 7-9

 

Kickoff Returner

Steven Sims | #13

  • Average: 25.5 | TD Returns: 0

 

Punt Returner

Steven Sims | #13

  • Average: 5.3 | TD Returns: 0

 

Scouting the Cleveland Browns

Overall record: 7-9 (4th in AFC North)

Last game: Cleveland 24 Washington 10

Head Coach: Kevin Stefanski

  • 3rd Season with Cleveland 
  • Overall regular-season record: 25-23 | 25-23 with Browns
  • Playoff Record: 1-1 I 1-1 with the Browns

Team Links

 

Browns Offense

Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 21.7
  • Total Offense per game: 364.8
  • Passing yards per game: 217.5
  • Rushing yards per game: 147.3

 

Quarterback

Deshaun Watson | #4

Has yet to shake off the rust of missing so many games over the past two years. Has a strong arm and can utilize his legs when needed.

  • Passing Yards: 872 | TD Passes: 5 | INT’s: 3 | Sacked: 13
  • Rushing Yards: 131 | Rushing TD’s: 1

Back-up: Jacoby Brissett | #7

  • Passing Yards: 2,608 | TD Passes: 12 | INT’s: 6 | Sacked: 24
  • Rushing Yards: 243 | Rushing TD’s: 2

Running Backs

Nick Chubb | #24

One of the best backs in the game, Chubb has a blend of power and speed that has him at the top of the rushing leaders.

  • Rushing Yards: 1,448 | Rushing TD’s: 12
  • Receptions: 22 | Receiving Yards: 194 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Kareem Hunt | #27

Great change of pace back, mainly utilized on 3rd down situations and out of the backfield catching passes.

  • Rushing Yards: 455 | Rushing TD’s: 3
  • Receptions: 32 | Receiving Yards: 195 | Receiving TD’s: 1

 

Receivers

Amari Cooper | #2

Has become the top option in the Browns passing attack. Leads the team in catches, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions.

  • Receptions: 76 | Receiving Yards: 1,109 | Receiving TD’s: 9

Donovan Peoples-Jones | #11

The 3rd year receiver is establishing himself as a go-to target when called upon.

  • Receptions: 59 | Receiving Yards: 797 | Receiving TD’s: 3

David Bell | #18

  • Receptions: 24 | Receiving Yards: 214 | Receiving TD’s: 0

Michael Woods II | #12

  • Receptions: 4 | Receiving Yards: 30 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

David Njoku | #85

Talented tight end that has tried to overcome many injuries in his young career. Basically the 3rd option in the Browns aerial attack.

  • Receptions: 54 | Receiving Yards: 586 | Receiving TD’s: 3

Harrison Bryant | #88

  • Receptions: 29 | Receiving Yards: 219 | Receiving TD’s: 1

*Injured/out

 

Browns Defense (Base 4-3) 

Defensive Stats

  • Points per game allowed: 22.1
  • Total offense yards per game allowed: 331.1
  • Passing yards allowed: 196.7
  • Rushing yards allowed: 134.4
  • Sacks: 33
  • Interceptions: 11

 

Defensive Starters

DE: Myles Garrett #95 | DT: Jordan Elliot #96 | DT: Taven Bryan #99 | DE: Jadeveon Clowney #90

  • Garrett has a team leading 15 sacks. Bryan has three sacks. Clowney has 28 tackles and two sacks.

OLB: Reggie Ragland #19 | MLB: Jermaine Carter, Jr. #40 | OLB: Tony Fields II #42

  • Fields has 37 tackles and one interception.

CB: Denzel Ward #21 | SS: Grant Delpit #22 | FS: John Johnson III #43 | CB: Greg Newsome II #20

  • Delpit is 1st on the team with 99 tackles, and four interceptions. Johnson III is 2nd on the team with 91 tackles. Ward has three INT’s.

 

Browns Special Teams

Placekicker

Cade York | #3

  • Extra Points: 33-35
  • Field Goals: 24-32
  • 1-19 yards: 0-0
  • 20-29 yards: 5-5
  • 30-39 yards: 9-12
  • 40-49 yards: 6-8
  • 50+ yards: 4-7

 

Kickoff Returner

Jerome Ford | #34

  • Average: 25.2 | TD Returns: 0

 

Punt Returner

Donovan Peoples-Jones | #11

  • Average: 12.4 | TD Returns: 1

 

 

Steelers vs Browns History

Series History: Began in 1950

Overall Record: 77-61-1

  • Home: 48-21
  • Away: 40-29-1
  • Postseason: 2-1

Streak: Browns won the last game.

Last regular-season meeting: Browns Win, 29-17 (Sept. 22, 2022)

Last postseason meeting: Browns Win, 48-37 (Jan. 10, 2021)

 

Injury Report (1/6/23)

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Out: DB Tre Norwood (Hamstring)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Ankle), LB Myles Jack (Groin),

Cleveland Browns

  • Out: T J. Conklin (Ankle), DE I. Thomas (Foot)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: CB D. Ward (Shoulder)

 

About Post Author

Mike Drakulich

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. For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!
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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.

For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!

By Mike Drakulich

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. For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!

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