Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gameday: Cleveland Browns

Factory of Sadness
Radio: WDVE and other affiliates

What To Watch For

1. Old Faces

If someone had told you at the beginning of the year that Charlie Batch would be throwing passes to Plaxico Burress, you would have assumed it was in the parking lot of some retirement home. But instead, both will be suiting up in the black and gold and taking the field in Cleveland. Most of Steeler Nation was vehemently calling for Charlie to come in last week after it was apparent that Leftwich was hurting, and now we get to see what Charlie can do. The receiving corps are depleted and the O-line hasn't played great lately (I'm looking at you, Willie Colon), but Charlie has led us to victory before.

2. Stop Trent Richardson

Richardson is a beast, plain and simple. Anyone who saw him play at Alabama knows just how much damage he can do. He has been impressive in his rookie season, displaying both open-field maneuverability and a punishing downhill running style. On top of being the Browns leading rusher, Richardson also has the most receptions and the 3rd most receiving yards on the team. Cleveland will try to get the ball into his hands in any way they can. Brad Childress is the Browns offensive coordinator, and a lot of things the Browns are doing with Richardson mirror what the Vikings did with Adrian Peterson early in his career.

3. Pressure Weeden

Brandon Weeden hasn't been awful in his rookie stint with the Browns, but he hasn't exactly been what one would hope for out of a 29-year old quarterback either. James Harrison seems to be getting better every week, but now he has to face his nemesis Joe Thomas. Of all the tackles in the league that Harrison has faced (and mostly dominated), Thomas is the only one that consistently gets the better of him. This is going to have to change if the Steelers want to force turnovers and put pressure on Weeden. The defense played a lights out game against the Ravens, but they still didn't force any turnovers and are one of the worst in the league (ahead of only Indianapolis) at generating turnovers.

4. Special Teams

One week after the Steelers give up their first touchdown on special teams, they get to face Josh Cribbs who has killed them time after time on special teams in the past. Of Cribbs' 8 career kickoff return touchdowns, 3 of them have come against the Steelers. With the way our offense is playing right now without Ben or Antonio Brown, we can not afford to give the Browns any easy points or easy scoring opportunities. Last week's game against the Ravens should serve as a perfect example as to why the Special Teams needs to improve and must limit the impact Josh Cribbs can have on this game.

5. Still the Browns

The Browns are 2-8 on the season but 5 of their 8 losses were by less than one score and all but one of their losses were by 10 points or less. They have a good defense that is capable of keeping them in games, but at the end of the day they are still the Cleveland Browns. And nothing says "Cleveland Browns" like making ridiculous mistakes at key points in the game. Last week's game against Dallas was a perfect example of this when the Browns carried a 13-point lead into the second half then gave up 17 fourth-quarter points to allow Dallas to tie the game, including a huge pass interference penalty that allowed the Cowboys to get into field goal range for the tying kick. The Steelers can't count on the officials the same way Dallas could, but they do need to be opportunistic in capitalizing on the mistakes the Browns will inevitably make.

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