When two games are scheduled four weeks apart, there usually isn’t much you can add to what you said the first time. The Steelers (who were 8-8 the year before) look like they’re going to be an 8-8 team (or thereabouts) again.
- They lost 26-6 to the Ravens at in Baltimore, turning the ball over three times. One cost them points; another set up a Baltimore score. Not an impressive performance
- They beat Carolina 37-19 in Carolina, with Can Newton at QB. This did look impressive.
- They lost to Tampa 27-24 in Pittsburgh. It was an appalling effort– 13 penalties for 125 yards 5 sacks allowed, 2 fumbles, They made QB Mike Glennon look special.
- They beat Jacksonville 17-9 on the road. It was QB Blake Bortles‘s third NFL game and second start; he looked baffled by the Zone Blitz. But the Steeler offense went nowhere; one of their touchdowns came on a pick-six.
The Steelers have a 5.0 rushing average (third in the league), but are 15th in the number of rushing attempts. They seem convinced that their best option is to have Ben Roethlisberger throw as many passes as possible. He’s played well– his rating is in triple digits– but he’s getting hit a lot, and he’s 32. One of these time, he won’t get up.
Defensively, they were 14th in points last season and 14th this year. That’s actually some progress, since they have younger guys playing– and opponents always score more in the early games, before the weather gets bad. Still, allowing 27 against Cleveland and Tampa Bay (remember, Lovie Smith is the coach there) is not something good coaches celebrate over.
I have no idea whether the good Steelers or the bad ones will show up– and even less idea which Browns team they will face. The Steelers are allowing 4.5 yards a game (24th), so Cleveland can run on them. They have only 8 sacks and 3 interceptions, so the Browns should be able to pass on them.
But the Browns have played such poor defense that it’s hard to imagine them outscoring the Steelers. Not having Joe Haden and Paul Kruger probably won”t help, either (although neither has played well enough to suggest it’ll hurt).
Prediction: I could see the Browns coming out on all cylinders, eager for revenge at home, and the Steelers laying another egg.
But as long as the Browns keep digging holes for themselves– and not keeping opponents off the scoreboard– I’d bet against them. Steelers 27-17