Week 17: Cleveland Browns At Pittsburgh Steelers
- QuarterbackBrandon Weeden has been a positive for the Browns in his rookie season. While he is not a superstar, he has played with courage and he has improved as the season has moved along. Weeden has a decent arm and he throws the ball with accuracy. Weeden could be in a position to take a major step up in 2013.The Steelers lost a heartbreaker to the Bengals and were eliminated from playoff contention. Ben Roethlisberger is a proven commodity, with size, arm strength and the ability to shake off the pass rush. He is not playing at 100 percent due to his rib injury, but he should have enough to take advantage of Cleveland’s shaky pass defense.
- OffenseRunning back Trent Richardson has plenty of explosiveness and shake-and-bake ability. He also runs with toughness, which required of any back who is going to line up against the Steelers. Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little are competent receivers who can keep drives alive.The Steelers have not been consistent in their running game this season, and they were at their worst in their earlier meeting with the Browns when Pittsburgh running backs put the ball on the ground throughout the game. Look for a much better effort from Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. Mike Wallace is one of the fastest wideouts in the league and tight end Heath Miller has sure hands.
- DefenseThe Browns have played active and aggressive much of the season, but they will be facing an angry team. The Steelers will attempt to establish their physical dominance with the running game and that means pushing middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson downfield. That will not be easy as he leads the team in tackles.The Steelers have the top statistical defense in the league, having allowed the fewest yards of any team in the league. They are especially good against the pass, and that speaks well cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Ike Taylor, who both excel at knocking passes out of reach of receivers. Safety Ryan Clark is one of the hardest hitting tacklers in the league.
- Special TeamsThe Browns have an explosive returner in Josh Cribbs, who can take over any game with his speed and ability to run to daylight. Phil Dawson is often overlooked, but he may be the best and most dependable placekicker in the game. Reggie Hodges is just an ordinary punter.Placekicker Shaun Suisham has had one of the best years of any Steeler placekicker in the team’s history. He simply does not miss on any kick from inside 50 yards. The Steelers have had a difficult time containing opposing punt returners.
The Steelers are playing for their postseason lives and the Browns are playing to impress their owner. Big edge to the Steelers, who also want revenge after playing one of their worst games in recent memory when they lost to the Browns in Week 12.