This Sunday, the Steelers and the Browns will renew one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL. These two teams have been facing one another since 1950.
The Steelers hold a slim lead in the all-time regular season series 58-56. However, the Steelers have owned the Browns of late. The Steelers had won 12 straight games in the series until the Browns finally got a win last December in Cleveland.
The Browns won that game 13-6, but the game was much more lopsided than the score indicated. Frankly, the Browns beat the #%$&*! out of the Steelers. They sacked Ben Roethlisberger 8 times during that game. The Browns threw so many blitzes at Big Ben that he probably started wondering if his offensive line was even trying to protect him.
For that reason, it is important for the Steelers to make sure that they don’t take the Browns for granted. Despite their 1-4 record, the Browns are actually a good team. Stop laughing, I’m being serious.
The Browns are the best 1-4 team in the NFL. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true. Several of their losses could have easily been wins. They lost by only 3 points to Tampa Bay. Then they lost by 2 points to a surprisingly good Kansas City Chiefs team. Then in week 3, they were beating the Baltimore Ravens until the Ravens made a late comeback to beat the Browns in the closing minutes of the game. They followed that near-win against Baltimore with a win over the reigning AFC North champs, the Cincinnati Bengals. And then finally they suffered a loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week. So the Browns’ 4 losses have been by an average of only 5 points per game. That indicates that they are playing all of their opponents close. Underestimating this team would be a BIG mistake.
Of course the story of this game is going to be the quarterbacks.
Big Ben will be making his regular season debut with the Steelers, following his 4 game suspension. In Ben’s absence, the Steelers have gone 3-1, but they did that mainly by running the ball and playing good defense.
The Steelers are ranked last in the NFL in passing. That’s right, dead last. Number 32 in the league. They are only averaging 136 passing yards per game. Those sound like rushing numbers, not passing numbers.
With Big Ben back in the lineup, there is little doubt that the Steelers’ passing attack is going to get a boost. In fact, based on what Roethlisberger did last year, the Steelers’ passing offense should become one of the top 10 in the NFL.
Of course, quarterback is going to be the position to watch for the Browns as well. The Browns have gone through quarterbacks almost as quickly as the Steelers have this season. Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are both out with injuries, so rookie Colt McCoy will be making his first start on Sunday.
McCoy was a highly touted quarterback who played for Texas in College. Many thought McCoy would be drafted earlier, but he slipped to the Browns in the third round.
If there is one defense that McCoy probably doesn’t want to make his NFL debut against, it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is probably going to throw some things at McCoy that the rookie has never even dreamed of, much less seen.
As was mentioned earlier, the Browns are not a team to be taken lightly. However, with the added pressure of starting a rookie quarterback, this game will likely prove to be too much for the Browns. Big Ben should start his 2010 season with a win, and the Steelers will improve their record to 4-1.
With Big Ben back in the lineup, the stairway to seven is not nearly as steep.
Here we go Steelers, here we go!
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