All these years and the Browns still think we’re the rival team.Â Maybe that was true when the Steelers were trying to establish themselves back in the 70s, but today, over the last decade specifically, the only in division game I get really excited about is the Ravens.
The Steelers and Browns first played against each other in 1950 and overall, the Steelers lead the series 58-56.Â I get that it’s the oldest match-up in the AFC North and that they have played each other more than 100 times, still, is it really a rivalry?Â Coach Tomlin would argue that any team they get in a bus to go play is a rival.Â Well, maybe.Â But does that make Cincinnati a rival as well?
Anyway, last season the Browns surprised the Steelers beating them 13-6 in December in Cleveland. That’s the kind of game that scares me.Â On the surface, the Browns have injuries, they have a brand spanking new quarterback under center and it just looks too good to be true.Â And when things look too good to be true….
Steelergurl’s Pop said, “They should win by at least 2 touchdowns.”
The Steelers have been playing incredibly inspired defense.Â They currently lead the league in fewest points allowed and 4th in total defense. No one has been able to do much of anything against the D (Yes, I know Housh was WIDE open at a very inconvenient time in the last 27 seconds of the Ravens game, I don’t know why the Great Dick LeBeau called a blitz play, but it happened and we lost, the end).Â On the other side of theÂ ball, the offense has been average, yet not predictable without Ben.
I guess that’s the key, Ben’s back.Â Ben threw for more than 4,000 yards last year, our offense was on fire, yet we still lost.Â Now we have an improved offensive line, an improved defense and an improved special teams – but I am hesitant to call it a W just that easy.Â Sometimes playing under the radar bodes well for us, sometimes being the underdog increases the inspired play.Â Yet, there’s that tingle in my stomach that wonders how the Steelers will play against the Josh Cribbs likely wildcat, or a quarterback that has something to prove in his NFL debut.
On Colt McCoy facing the Steelers defense, Coach Tomlin said:
I would imagine Eric Mangini and his staff are going to do whatever they can to keep McCoy out of those positions. Part of playing with a young quarterback â€“ and Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™re having these discussions â€“ is keeping him on schedule, or ahead of the chains. If he gets into second-and-long situations or third-and-long situations, that doesnâ€™t bode well for a young man. Weâ€™d like to get him in those situations and hopefully we do, but Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™re going to work hard to keep him out of them.
Obviously, the Browns will be leaning on their running game – which has been successful this season – and Peyton Hillis has 350 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns.Â But he’s listed as “limited” this week due to a quad injury.Â The Browns traded for Michael Bell the other day, but it’s unclear what he really brings to the table. Guess we’ll find out because if Hillis plays, I am guessing there will be time split withÂ Bell to allow Hillis to rest occasionally.
The one to watch out for: Josh Cribbs.
I still remember screaming when he ran a kick-off back 98 yards for a touchdown against the Steelers last fall.Â They will definitely try to run the wildcat with him.Â And depending on how successful it is determines how many times the Browns continue to try it.Â I would hope that the Steelers have been gearing up for that move. It’s not a secret to anyone.
In essence, the Browns are getting better and they are not as bad as their record might suggest.Â They have put up a good fight against all their opponents this season and should not be taken lightly.
Yet, a prepared and inspired and passionate Steelers team with the franchise quarterback under center should put a beating on the Browns.
Let’s see who shows up. I’m hoping its the team with the “Boom.”
My prediction: Steelers 32 – Browns 14
What do you think?