This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Steelers and the Browns in their week eight match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Cleveland Browns 2-4-1 at Pittsburgh Steelers 3-2-1
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 1pm Eastern Sunday, October 28th, 2018
Weather: 47 degrees with a 50% chance of rain showers.
Line: Steelers -8
Last Week: The Browns played in their fourth overtime game of the season and lost in OT on a 59-yard field goal in Tampa Bay. The Steelers enjoyed their bye week.
TV: CBS Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
TV Coverage in Your Area: Check here for coverage where you live!
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Carl Cheffers
Key Injuries: PIT: OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee) – Out CLE: DB E. Gaines (Concussion) – Out, WR R. Higgins (Knee) – Out
DB D. Randall (Groin, Ankle)- Questionable, LB J. Schobert (Hamstring)- Out, WR D. Scott (Shoulder) – Questionable
C J. Tretter (Ankle) – Questionable
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 16th, CLE 17th Passing Offense: PIT 7th, CLE 20th Rushing Offense: PIT 30th, CLE 4th
Total Defense: PIT 12th, CLE 29th Passing Defense: PIT 17th, CLE 28th Rushing Defense: PIT 6th, CLE 29th
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 3-2-1, Baltimore 4-3, Cincinnati 4-3, Cleveland 2-4-1
This Week in the AFC North: Tampa Bay (3-3) at Cincinnati (4-3) 1PM, Baltimore (4-3) at Carolina (4-2) 1PM
What You Need to Know: The Steelers are just 1-2 so far at home in 2018… Mike Tomlin is 7-4 in games following the BYE week… The Steelers have won five in a row during the month of October… Ben Roethlisberger has never lost to the Browns at home (10-0)… With a win Tomlin would improve to 49-20-1 against AFC North teams… The Steelers are looking for their 101st win in Heinz Field.
What’s at Stake: The Steelers currently lead the AFC North based on winning percentage and will need a victory to keep that margin. The Browns need a victory to keep pace and inch closer to the .500 mark. Both teams also need a win in terms of divisional record. The Steelers stand at 1-1-1 while the Browns are 1-0-1.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 72-58-1 all-time and 44-21 in Pittsburgh.
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 417yards 10/18/2009, Browns Bernie Kosar 414 yards 11/23/1986… RUSHING: Steelers Willie Parker 223 yards 12/7/2006, Browns Jim Brown 175 yards 10/5/1963… RECEIVING: Steelers Buddy Dial 235 yards 10/22/1961, Browns Josh Gordon 237 yards 11/24/2013 (courtesy steelers.com)
Last Meeting: September 9th, 2018 in Cleveland, Browns 21 Steelers 21
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Win the Turnover Battle. The Cleveland Browns have recorded a whopping 20 takeaways so far in 2018. That’s an average of almost three per game. Their plus/minus however is just +10 because they’ve also had their share of giveaways. The Steelers meanwhile are -2 overall with just eight takeaways (4 INT/4 FMB). Pittsburgh learned a very hard lesson in the opener giving the ball away five times and squandering several opportunities to win the game. With the Browns’ defense ranking near the bottom (see above) the Steelers cannot make it easy on them by turning it over. Their drives must finish with points and conversely the Steelers’ D needs to force Baker Mayfield and company into mistakes of their own.
Red Zone Defense. Both of these defenses rank in the bottom third when it comes to Red Zone scoring (TDs only). Both offenses rank in the middle third in the same category. For the Steelers to win the battle they’ll need to limit the mobility of Baker Mayfield on defense. If he gets out on the edge and has time to throw into the end zone then that’s not good because the Steelers’ secondary just can’t cover long enough. Offensively the Steelers will need to do a nice job of mixing up the pass and the run on early downs. If they can catch the Browns being overly aggressive or not aggressive enough it could reap big benefits Randy Fichtner’s unit.
“Home” Ben Needs to Shine. In three previous home games in 2018, Big Ben has thrown seven touchdown passes, two interceptions and has been sacked just twice. Now he faces a ball-hawking Browns’ defense that will bring pressure from the edges and will take chances in the secondary. It is no secret that he can’t turn the ball over the way he did in week one in the Cleveland monsoon. Part of getting back on track has boiled down to two things. He’s not forcing the ball to Antonio Brown like he has in the past and he’s utilizing throws to his tight ends and slot receivers over the middle. There’s no doubt the Browns will attempt to take those throws away so he must take what he’s given and go from there.
Predictions: Mike Tomlin is 3-3 in his last six games coming off the bye. Those have been a nice mix of home and away games as well. Ben Roethlisberger commented earlier this week that they need to come out fresh and ready to go which tells me they’ve been emphasizing this. The Browns are coming off their fourth overtime game of the season and a road trip to Florida. I expect a much better Steelers’ than we saw week one. Steelers 30 Browns 17
Season Prediction Record: 3-3