Pittsburgh Steelers: How Can Steelers Knock Out Cleveland Browns?
With the NFL playoffs officially returning this weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers will try to eliminate the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.
This Wild Card showdown will be another tough AFC North matchup and both teams will try to win a best-of-three series during this 2020-21 campaign.
Cleveland is in the postseason for the first time since 2003.
During that playoff trip, the Browns lost to, yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh is making its first playoff appearance in three years.
The Steelers fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round of the 2018 playoffs.
How can the Steelers defeat the Browns in this hardcore rubber match? Let’s take a look.
Chase Claypool caught a jump ball during the Week 17 matchup between the Steelers and Browns on a 4th and 10 pass from Mason Rudolph.
Do you think Ben Roethlisberger is going to forget that play?
With Big Ben’s career winding down, I would expect him to go all out in this game and spread the ball around.
If Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Diontae Johnson are stretching the field on Sunday night, it’s going to be a gorgeous offensive output by Pittsburgh.
Chase Claypool had 62 catches, 873 yards, and nine touchdowns during his rookie season.
Johnson posted 88 receptions and seven TDs. JuJu tallied 97 catches and nine scores.
Whether Cleveland has cornerback Denzel Ward or not, the Steelers need to pick up big chunks of yardage and reach the endzone.
Ruin the Backfield
When the Steelers hit Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield and suffocate the Cleveland running game, the Browns are a different team.
I would expect the Steelers to control the pace of the game throughout and make Baker a non-factor.
I understand Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are a serious combo to deal with, but Pittsburgh should be okay in this playoff game.
The Browns will not have head coach Kevin Stefanski since he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Pitt defense will have the services of linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive lineman Cam Heyward.
It’s hard to imagine the Steelers getting derailed at home as they face a Cleveland offense that hasn’t looked very impressive in their two meetings this season.
Plus, in the two prior matchups, the Steelers have sacked Mayfield eight times.
The Browns won’t have Joel Bitonio, 29, in this game either. The offensive guard tested positive for COVID-19.
Protect the Rock
It sounds obvious but, the Pittsburgh Steelers need to avoid giving the football away.
Whether it’s on offense or special teams, Pitt cannot give the Browns extra opportunities to score.
The last thing the Steelers need to do is allow Cleveland to hang around in this game.
Guys like Ray-Ray McCloud, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Conner, and JuJu have to avoid costly mistakes and understand the heat of the playoffs.
JuJu has fumbled the football in the past and Conner is not always perfect with the football whether it’s dropping passes or fumbling the rock (doesn’t fumble often).
If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to advance to the next round, they need to execute these three keys and top the Browns once again.
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