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Steeler Hitman

2020 Week #6 GDT Steelers vs. Browns

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Week #6 The 4-0 Steelers host the 4-1 Browns

When: Sunday, October 18, 2020 @ 1 pm

Where: Heinz Field Pittsburgh, PA

Series History: 76-59-1 Steelers and Steelers 2-0 play-offs

Last Meeting: 12/1/19 Steelers got some revenge on Cleveland winning 20-13 after an earlier ugly loss in Cleveland that featured all types of drama and fights. In the rematch Develin Duck Hodges brought the Steelers back from a 10-0 deficit and the defense hounding and pounded the Browns shutting them out in the second half and outscoring them 20-0 over the final three quarters.

Over the past two years the match-ups have gotten closer in 2018 and 2019 with the Steelers going 2-1-1 in the last four games that have all been competitive games. 

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Key Offensive Brown players: QB Baker Mayfield, RB's Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt, WR's Odell Beckham Jr., & Jarvis Landry, TE's Austin Hooper & David Njoku, OL JC Tretter, Jack Conklin, Joel Bitonio

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Baker Mayfield and the 4-1 Browns have a lot to smile about lately after winning four straight games including big wins over Dallas and Indianapolis the past two weeks.  

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Defensive Keys to a Steelers Victory

1. Stop the Browns rushing attack. Cleveland is without a doubt one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL. They are doing it without Nick Chubb as well. Kareem Hunt is equally as dangerous. He is an all around threat rushing and receiving and can be an absolute nightmare for LB'ers to match up against. The Browns are physical. Any team who rushes for over 300 yards is special. If they run, they control the clock, they set up play action passes and their plethora of offensive weapons will kill you as they have done the past four games. The Steelers run defense has been exceptional save a 74 yard TD run by Miles Sanders last week. But the Steelers run defense with Tuitt, Cam and Tyson is the best that they have had since the days of Big Snack, The Beard and Aaron Smith. 

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2.  Win the battle at the LOS. - - To stop the run, the Steelers will have to beat a punishing downhill blocking attack that the Browns use. Key game that ILB Bush and Williams will be deployed to help shut this down. However, the Browns may well counter the rushing attack by trying to get Williams in coverage against Hooper, WR, or RB coming out of the backfield. This is one reason the Steelers have used more zone (to protect Vince when in there) and to keep an eye on mobile QB's. The Eagles countered the Steelers early man with the draw play on 3rd and long that Miles ran for a 74 yard TD. Keep an eye on the chess match with the coaches, but this is all mute, if the Steelers can't dominate at the LOS. The Browns will pick the defense apart with their weapons.

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3. Attack Baker Mayfield.  In the immortal words of former Steelers Coach Bill Cowher, "You must rush and hit the QB. And hit him hard!" No QB likes to be hit. Baker is very mobile. He can hurt you in or out of the pocket and is playing his best stretch of football as a pro. TJ and Bud have to get after him, but I believe that the inside pressure from Tuitt and Cam would be more destructive. If Baker can't get comfortable inside the pocket, the timing and rhythm of the passing attack will be disrupted. If you pressure Baker enough he can make mistakes. Can our secondary which has struggled take advantage. The Steelers defense has given up big plays passing in every game and even gave up a big run last game. Beware, this offense has more weapons and is more complete than any the Steelers have faced all year.

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4. Cover Jarvis, Odell, Austin, Kareem and company.  The Steelers secondary is not playing as well as they did in 2019. They have given up yardage and big pass plays. Some have been in man and others they have been beat in zone coverage by QB's who picked the zone apart. The pass rush and secondary will need to better sync up.  The Steelers have been a great team of pressure and sacks, but has still proven that the passing lanes are the most effective way to attack this defense. The Steelers defense has to find a way to get better on third downs. They gave up huge drive converting first downs and touchdowns in all four games. This must be addressed and corrected both schematically and execution wise.

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5. Win the mental battle on the field and sidelines. The defense has shown some cracks or kinks in the steel armor early by air. They are also uncharacteristically giving up big plays. It may need a little influx of Coach T creativity as used the second meeting last year in the second half to slow down the Browns offense and to weld some steel patches in the Steel Curtain. Offensively, the Browns have not only been moving the ball, but also putting up points.  They just dropped 32 points on a tough Colts defense as well. The Steelers will have their hands full.

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 Chase Claypool has a coming out party and flying high against the Eagles.

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Key Browns defensive players: Browns front four: Miles Garrett, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi,  Olivier Vernon, CB's Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams.

Offensive Keys to a Steelers Victory.

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1.  Remain balanced. - - The Steelers did a very good job of playing balanced football and they have increased their point outage each game.  With the success of both offenses over the past few weeks, this may turn into a shootout. Give the defense some help by finally playing good complimentary and balanced football. The Steelers almost did this versus the Eagles, but the big plays, the one turnover, crappy officiating, and penalties hurt them. The Steelers got some good runs with Claypool and Ray Ray despite not having the success of the previous three games. They again face a stout DL and flowing LB'ers. They have to keep banging the ball in the running game and being creative. The Connor, Snell, McFarland group did not do great running, but they ran decent a times to extend drives and set up passes. The same must be done this week. Claypool is no longer a secret weapon so spread the ball around.

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2. Hold onto the football. The Steelers have gotten better here with Ben not throwing a pick in three of four games. However, the Steelers have put the ball on the ground every game. The Browns have done well with creating and converting turnovers. Turnover helped get them in front of and keep them in front of the Cowboys and Colts. This is not the game for an untimely fumble, tipped pass or outright poor pass into coverage. The Browns will make us pay. Ball security has to be at a premium this game. Punting is better than turning the ball over to the Browns offense. I say this every week, but it holds true every week as well. 

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3. Use your other offensive talents and weapons. Ju Ju, Vance, James, Eric, Anthony, and Ray Ray are other passing options to consider besides the new toy/weapon Claypool. Most likely the Browns will counter with Denzel Ward and I just read that Greedy is being placed on IR today. Those big plays are fun, but not always the best way to win and play complementary football.  JuJu is still dangerous and Washington or Dionte will most likely get one on one coverage as the Browns will probably rotate a safety deep to help out with Claypool's speed. Exploit this. Share the wealth and opportunities as more weapons become options. I think the Steelers did a good job of this mixing plays with Claypool, Ray ray and McFarland. Keep doing this. 

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4. For the sweet love of baby Jesus, can we learn to run a good screen pass. Again, we have an opponent who can get after the QB and generate pressure both inside and out. A few well executed screens would definitely help with the offensive execution and keep their DL honest.  We have Ray Ray, Anthony, Chase and even TE Eric Ebron. A good screen is all about selling it and having good timing.  Both of which can use some work in the Steelers case. However, with our offensive weapons, this would be a very good play. 

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5. You have to play smart and disciplined football. Then again, you also have to be invisible on some plays because these guys have been very inconsistent. The bringing the refs to practice experiment worked for one week. Last week the officials were horrible. We also have to do some things to keep the flags in their pockets. OL's you may want to wait a second before proceeding up-field to block on pass completions. I know there is holding every play, but when the defender gets outside your shoulders, let go. This has been a problem on both sides of the ball.  We missed a potential strip sack early of Wentz that wasn't challenged after a defensive sack. You can't let these guys slow the offense or extend drives on defense. The refs have been in preseason mode as well. You have to be smart. 

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Special Teams

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1. I continue to say it is all about the power of McCloud! He looks like he is very close to breaking one every week and seems to do a better job than Dionte with avoiding the big hits. Dionte is valuable to the offense and this is a week that he will be needed on offense. I know it is tempting to put him back there with his ability to return one, but I think McCloud is the better option right now. In close games, a key return can turn things around. Dionte has been getting hit and hurt and I am not as confident with his ball security as well. The knock has been McCloud's ball catching on punts, but thus far we haven't seen any issues. Give him a shot to do this all game. 

Injuries and Intangibles

Steelers: G David DeCastro, OC Marquise Pouncey, WR Dionte Johnson 

Browns: LB Tae Davis, DE Adrian Clayborn, DL Larry Ogunjobi, CB Greedy Williams IR, S Karl Joseph, Baker Mayfield ribs, Olivier Vernon

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Predictions: This game could go either way. Two teams that are battling for play-off spots and jockeying for bragging rights and getting a leg up on a divisional foe. The past two years have been as close as close can be. The Steelers split last year after getting a thumping in Cleveland. I think two things factor for the Steelers: 1. Big Ben is back. Having a great QB makes a lot of difference. Some of the things the Browns were successful with against our back-ups won't work with Ben. Ben is 23-3-1 and the Steelers are 27-4-1 with Landry Jones winning a few if I recall in that span between 2004 and 2019.

Brian Hoyer (twice), Brady Quinn, and Baker have won against the Steelers four times in 32 games including one tie. 

2. Steelers have traditionally matched up well against the Browns. Although the tide might be shifting as Big Ben is in the later years of his tenure in Pittsburgh. Because the game is at home, I think the Steelers find a way to pull out a close and action packed game setting up another big game against the Ravens the following week. The Steelers are 4-0, but it has not been a dominating 4-0 and this game could easily shift to the Browns side with turnovers, blown assignments and giving up big plays. This is the least confident that I have been ll year picking the Steelers to win, but I will ride them at least one more week:

Steelers over Browns in another close game that is finally determined in the fourth quarter 33 - 27. Do the Steelers finally get an opening drive offensive TD? It has been a long time. Steelers best chance to win is to get up early and control the TOP from the Browns. A good defense will be a great Steelers offense.

Edited by Steeler Hitman
Completed Weekly GD Thread
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We need to attack the middle of the field hard.  I could see Ebron having a big day.  Any of our receivers going across the middle should give them headaches and open things up on the outside.

This could be a high scoring game unless our secondary shows up.  They dont have the talent behind their defensive line to contain us, and our secondary at this point cant even contain a bunch of backups, so they are likely going to get embarrassed by Odell and Landry unless our pass rush can rattle Mayfield into bad decisions and throws.  

34-30 Steelers, but I certainly wouldn't shocked if we lost.

Edited by 43M
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If we are playing soft zone again this game is going to be ugly. We need to put more pressure on these WRs. 

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3 hours ago, 43M said:

We need to attack the middle of the field hard.  I could see Ebron having a big day.  Any of our receivers going across the middle should give them headaches and open things up on the outside.

This could be a high scoring game unless our secondary shows up.  They dont have the talent behind their defensive line to contain us, and our secondary at this point cant even contain a bunch of backups, so they are likely going to get embarrassed by Odell and Landry unless our pass rush can rattle Mayfield into bad decisions and throws.  

34-30 Steelers, but I certainly wouldn't shocked if we lost.

This is actually a perfect summary of this game. This is better than what any writer will put out.

 

The only thing I’ll add for Cleveland’s side: Ignore the injury report for us. We’ve had guys look perfectly fine when they’ve been on our report.
 

Baker got popped in the ribs but I think he’s going to be fine. There was serious talk about Wyatt Teller returning in the Colts game, but Hubbard did fine at RG.

Edited by candyman93
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6 minutes ago, candyman93 said:

The only thing I’ll add for Cleveland’s side: Ignore the injury report for us. We’ve had guys look perfectly fine when they’ve been on our report.

Is Stefanski playing some gamesmanship using injury report (nothing wrong with that, every team does it) or do you think there's actually something wrong with guys and they are gritting it out on gameday due to the record?

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Excellent post

point 1 Phillips linebacker will be on Ebron Phillips will probably make the all rookie team

WR Schuster will be guarded by Mitchell  Ward will guard Chase.

Offense we got 125 yards on the ground verses Indy the Browns are going to come in a 2 tight end set up. 

Linebackers Watt he get a tight end plus he will either get Conklin or Jeddrick Wills.

Anyways good luck,

 

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3 hours ago, warfelg said:

Is Stefanski playing some gamesmanship using injury report (nothing wrong with that, every team does it) or do you think there's actually something wrong with guys and they are gritting it out on gameday due to the record?

That’s a really good question. Our secondary is definitely banged up. Kareem Hunt is fine. Jarvis and OBJ are both fine. Baker got popped 1 play but nothing is broken.
 

I want to see how they list Wyatt Teller. I’m 90% confident he could have continued to play in the Indy game, but Hubbard filled in well.

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7 hours ago, warfelg said:

I expect a blowout one way or another TBH.

Come on warfelg, you know better lol. I expect a feisty, close game.

Browns offense: One thing that scares me is that how much Pittsburgh likes to blitz. These aren't your grandpa's blitzes either - they're well designed and executed. Up until this point the Browns have mainly faced 4-man rushes with a little blitzing sprinkled in. Will Baker commit turnovers? Will the Steelers give up bigger plays? How will they balance defending the run vs. the pass in the well prepared Stefanski wide zone offense? So many question marks up until this point. I have a bad feeling about our PA rollouts - I can see someone like Watt disrupting all of it.

Browns defense: So far the Browns have generated a ton of pressure with just 4-man rushes and zone coverage, trying to imitate the legion of boom Seahawks defense. Our talent is nowhere near that, which leads to huge mistakes in the secondary that a QB like Ben can feast on. Attack our safeties down the field and you'll wind up with 30 points - simple as that. The only reason the Browns defense has been forcing turnovers is because of the play of the defensive line. Myles is having a fantastic year. Will he be able to pressure Ben into turnovers, or will Ben tear apart the sloppy zone coverage of the Browns defense?

 

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12 hours ago, warfelg said:

I expect a blowout one way or another TBH.

How often are we involved in blowouts, one way or the other?

Obviously, you could be right, but I question the logic.

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57 minutes ago, 43M said:

How often are we involved in blowouts, one way or the other?

Obviously, you could be right, but I question the logic.

About once a year. This just has the feelings of that game where Ben plays like crap and the defense is on the field too much. 

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Ben will look like he’s 28 when he faces our secondary, don’t worry.

 

Unless the defense forces turnovers or gets a big play from Myles, they suck.

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21 hours ago, candyman93 said:

That’s a really good question. Our secondary is definitely banged up. Kareem Hunt is fine. Jarvis and OBJ are both fine. Baker got popped 1 play but nothing is broken.
 

I want to see how they list Wyatt Teller. I’m 90% confident he could have continued to play in the Indy game, but Hubbard filled in well.

Not to mention Ogunjobi missed last week's game and I'm unsure of his status for Sunday. Richardson and Elliott are also banged up too.

Hubbard did an admirable job filling in for Teller, but Teller has been our best lineman so he'll definitely be missed if he's unable to go.

Our pass defense is going to make Big Ben look like he's in his prime.

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IMO here are the most key matchups:

1. The Browns OL vs. the Steelers Rush D and Edge Rush. If the Browns have success on the ground with their downhill rushing attack, I like our chances. If the Browns can't run the ball and Pittsburgh is constantly playing ahead of the sticks on 3rd Down, I think Baker struggles to find rhythm, comfort, and probably turns the ball over. Our OL is having a fantastic year, but Wills showed his rookie factor last week in the pass protection portion of his game.

2. The Browns Front 4 vs. the Steelers OL. If the Browns can find a way to get to Ben and stop the Steelers running game, then that may neutralize the glaring deficiencies in our secondary. Greedy is hurt (again), Sandejo is the worst safety in the NFL (according to PFF and anyone with eyesight), and our LB corps is a "by committee" approach and pretty poor.

3. Turnovers. The Browns D has forced a LOT of turnovers, and so far we've done a good job of NOT turning the ball over (as a whole), so I'd look for this to be a very key difference.

This is a benchmark game for both teams. Pittsburgh hasn't beaten anyone, and the one great team Cleveland played blew them out, albeit beating the Colts was a nice win. If the Browns get exposed again, then that doesn't bode well for them as a contender. If Cleveland somehow finds a way to "handle" Pittsburgh, then it could mean Ben doesn't have that same downfield passing ability and Pitt's lack of a consistent running game could be telling going forward.

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I'm not looking forward to AV trying to block Garrett. Villy isn't that good, but Garrett makes him look like a scrub every time they face off. 

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