The Pittsburgh Steelers need a win and some help to make the 2022 NFL Playoffs, and that start with taking care of business at home against the rival Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
What will be the keys to this week’s game? Let’s dive in.
KEY TO VICTORY: Make Deshaun Watson look average.
The Browns obviously want to win this game to send the Steelers home, but if they do it with a heavy dose of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt while Deshaun Watson continues his very mediocre 2022 season, what does that say about the Browns, their future and the giant check they handed to the accused sexual abuser?
The Browns’ identity is a running team, but what the Browns need more than anything in this game is to get Watson looking right heading into the offseason. Count on some quarterback runs, a heavy dose of play action, and some deep shots mixed in, to try to maximize Watson’s ability to impact the game.
OVERLOOKED MATCHUP: Cameron Sutton vs. Amani Cooper
If the Browns are going to throw, with respect to David Njoku, Amani Cooper is the guy to do it with. Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie David Bell can catch the ball, but neither are the kind of dangerous playmaker that Cooper is. The Steelers may not match Cam Sutton up with him exclusively, but Sutton is the Steelers’ best option to minimize the Browns top passing threat. Cooper had seven catches for 101 yards the first time around. Improving their coverage on Cooper is a big job for the Steelers defense.
BOLD PREDICTION: The Steelers get a defensive touchdown.
So you have a Cleveland offense that is likely going to be playing against its primary tendency, and then to add to that, Cleveland right tackle Jack Conklin is out and will be replaced by second-year right tackle James Hudson III. Watt destroyed Hudson last year in that situation, got four sacks, three tackles for loss and five quarterback hits. A freed-up Watt combined with the Browns probably throwing more than they’re used to is a prime recipe for some turnovers, and it’s been a while since the Steelers defense found the end zone. That’ll change this week.
Steelers 24, Browns 13
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