The Browns are headed into week 6 with a record of 1-4, after last weeks 20-10 loss to the Falcons. This weeks matchup is with the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Last weeks game ended on a fluke INT touchdown for D-Lineman Kroy Biermann, after the Browns bounced back and forth from injured QB Wallace to injured QB Delhomme as well as an injured RB in Hillis. This week, the Browns are expected to have Hillis in the backfield with rookie QB Colt McCoy, making his first professional start.
This week it is our Browns visiting Heinz field in Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. This is the first time in recent memory that the Browns will be going into a game with Pitt, having won the last meeting. The Browns go into this one as the severe underdogs (what else is new?) against a 3-1 Steelers team that is just getting back their starting QB Ben Roethlisberger, from a 4 game suspension. So the Steelers, who have had one of the top defenses this year, as they do most years, and have heavily relied on their running back Reshard Mendenhall are now a threat in the passing game. This could mean bad news for the Browns. Unless the Brownies can put together a game like they managed to last year, in a dirty low scoring event that ended up with a scrappy Browns win, which is unlikely this time around since all the injuries, and the fact that Colt McCoy is being thrown in the deep end without his floaties against one of the top teams in the NFL so far this year.
The keys to this weekends game for the Browns are:
– Stopping the Run. The Browns have continued to do a decent job of stopping the run, giving up 600 yards on the ground but not allowing a single rushing TD against a few great running backs (Turner, Rice, Charles). The run D has worked hard to keep points off the board, and they will need to snuff out the run completely if they hope to stop the Steelers from scoring.
– The Running Game. Hillis is slated to play, but after an injury forced him out of last weeks loss there have to be doubts about his fitness heading into this weeks divisional clash. Hillis has rushed for 350 yards and 4 TD’s this year and even if he is limited in this game how he plays will still have a huge impact on the Browns offense. With the addition this week of Mike Bell there might be a crutch in place if Hillis goes down for McCoy to lean on and James Davis could always be used in a pinch as well.
– The O-Line. The Offensive line was in shambles at times last week, allowing an endless flood of Falcons to get in and hit Delhomme and Wallace. McCoy will be back there this week, which means the line is really going to need to work hard, because the Steelers D is going to be going all out to get to him. The Steelers have gotten 11 sacks this year so far, and they will definitely be looking to add to that.
– The Impact of Big Ben. The Steelers QB is coming back, and the Browns D will have to hope that he isn’t quite game ready and try to take advantage of his lack of regular season work this season.
– Takin’ It To The Cribb. Josh Cribbs’ most impressive kick return TD of all (arguably) is his sideline tight rope performance against the Steelers. The Browns special teams will need to block well in the hopes of Cribbs returning a kick to the house (or the Cribb). The Browns will also need Cribbs to take control of the offense, and get him involved in the Flash formation, as well as in the receiving game. If McCoy starts to struggle the Browns could revert to Cribbs as a more full-time QB for one game. I hope Cribbs gets 4-5 passing attempts, 3-4 rushing attempts and 2-3 catches, because if that is the case he could have a significant impact and might even get the Browns on the right track for an upset.
Oh and for those people who might have missed Peyton Hillis’ awesome hurdle from this weekend, I hope you enjoy!