House of Steel--Week 11--Pre Game Summary
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns Stadium at 1 PM on CBS.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to Cleveland where the anticipating match-up is here in what is one of the NFL's greatest rivalries, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Despite a 3-6 record, the Browns have a chance to get themselves back in the playoff picture believe this or not as they start a three-game homestand.
Of course, the first up is the defending World Champions the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom the Browns deseperately want to beat after a lopsided Christmas Eve massacre loss here last year.
The Steelers (3-6) came into Cleveland last season and won 41-0 on Dec. 24 of last year as Willie Parker had 80 of his 130 rushing yards on one touchdown run. The Browns walked away embarrassed after being outgained 457-178 and allowing 8 sacks to Charlie Frye.
The Steelers are 11-3 against Cleveland since they re-entered the NFL in 1999, winning the past five meetings between the teams. They've also won five straight at Cleveland since a 23-20 loss on Sept. 17 of 2000.
The Browns immediately started to look ahead to this game after a shocking 17-13 victory at Atlanta, Last Sunday.
The Browns have won two of their past three games after a dismal 1-5 start, but are 1-3 at home. Coach Romeo Crennel, though, is hoping to use their victory last week- his first against a winning team since taking over last year-- and this game as a springboard to regain home-field advantage and make Browns Stadium a hostile setting for opponents again.
Frye was efficient at Atlanta, going 16 for 22 passes for 165 yards and a score, but more importantly, was not intercepted for the first time this season. Crennel was pleased with his quarterback's decision-making and hopes it will continue.
Like the Browns, Pittsburgh also harbors playoff hopes despite a dismal record. The Steelers--who had committed 10 turnovers their previous two games--held onto the ball against New Orleans at home and posted a 38-31 victory, which shredded their once-vaunted defense for 517 yards.
Pittsburgh hadn't allowed that many yards since giving up 520 at Cincinnati on September 17 of 1989.
Pittsburgh has given up 123 points in its past four games, and their victory against the Saints was the third time in its past four contests that it allowed 31 points or more after doing so only once in the past two seasons. Despite the unsettling numbers, linebacker Joey Porter think his team is heading in the right direction.
The Steelers, though, might be without a key member of their defense for this game. Troy Polamalu is listed as questionable after suffering a concussion trying to tackle Saints Running Back Reggie Bush.
It is the sixth concussion Polamalu has suffered while playing football, causing concern among team officials and leaving Cowher to take a cautious approach with his Pro Bowl Safety, who almost fell off the bench at one point during the game after the hit.
Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 264 yards and three scores against New Orleans, is 3-0 against Cleveland. Parker, who rushed for 213 yards and two scores last week, has gained 7.0 yards per carry on 25 attempts in two games against Cleveland.
On the injury front, first the Cleveland Browns. CB Leigh Bodden is out with his ankle injury. The biggest concern for the Browns in this anticipated match-up is the status of RB Reuben Droughns who's foot was swelling all this week and was preventing from practicing. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Droughns has been wearing a protective boot all this week to protect the injury. He is listed as Questionable for the game, and it looks highly unlikely he will be starting this game. WR Joshua Cribbs, FS Justin Hamilton, OLB Willie McGinest, DB Jereme Perry, ILB Leon Williams, and TE Kellen Winslow are all listed as Questionable for this game, but I would count on at least half of the list to be in the game. One final note to mention, QB Charlie Frye is listed as probable for the game with an injury to his throwing wrist, but will start in the game.
For the Steelers, WR Willie Reid continues to be out so far with his foot injury which is hurting the Special Team production drastically. Probable for the game includes OLB James Harrison, C Jeff Hartings, FB Dan Kreider, ILB Clint Kriewaldt, WR Sean Morey, C Chukky Okobi, SS Troy Polamalu, and CB Deshea Townsend, all whom should be a factor in this game. Polamalu's status is still up in the air.
THE KEYS TO VICTORY:
- Keep Big Ben from running out of the pocket, this will be the toughest challenge yet for the DL of the Browns having to contain one of the finest OL in the NFL.
- Keep Willie Parker in check, this is obviously a big concern for Crennel and Company. They all are very aware of how dangerous Parker can be, he is a game breaker and a momentum killer. Must close up the lanes or this guy could have a monsterous game once again.
- Keep the focus on Ward and Miller, these two players have a history of doing extremely well against Cleveland and will be a huge factor in the arsenal of the offense. Cleveland will need to beef up the passing defense, or once again, a very long day is in stored.
- BLITZBURGH IS A MUST!!! LeBeau will strongly rely on the Blitzburgh packaging of sending 6 to 7 DL into the OL of the Browns causing Frye pressure and to make mental mistakes. Keep in mind, Frye has never been successful against the defense of the Steelers. This should be an easy task.
- Keep an eye on Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, two momentum killers on the Browns offense that can break a team back very quickly. The secondary will have their work cut out. If Polamalu is to play in this game, this could be very well be a Steelers advantage, if not, this could make the Steelers very vunlerable to pass.
- NO TURNOVERS!!! This is a major must. The Defense of the Cleveland Browns has the ability to create game changing turnovers, and it is a must that the Steelers hold on to the ball and not make hardly any mental mistakes.
BOTTOM LINE PREDICTION:
I am expecting an all-out war from both teams. A lot of factors are in play to determine who will become victorious. I see the Steelers getting things rolling, they are coming off a great game against the Saints and the Browns want to continue their momentum carried over by the victory over Atlanta. The Steelers winning the last five contests in Cleveland tells the story all together. Ben, Willie, Hines, and Najeh will have a ball with this team. It will be a STEELERS VICTORY IN CLEVELAND!!