It's a dicey situation; the Browns are looking to make a statement, and the Steelers are grasping at the possibility of staying in the postseason conversation. By the numbers, this is a pretty compelling matchup. The Browns could pose a real threat for the first time in recent memory.
All the offense needs to do is stay sharp and avoid turnovers. This game will be entirely won or lost on defense, and if we implement a few of the following strategies plus a pinch of lemon rind and a splash of bourbon, we could just pull an upset.
It's Thanksgiving; the food analogies are only beginning, friends.
Get to Leftwich
With his notoriously inefficient windup, Leftwich is a great candidate for D'Qwell Jackson's reign of destruction. Sacks are funny; they continue to make a statement long after the QB's back has left the ground. They're statement plays, and that pressure can completely change the tone of the offense.
The Browns D got to Romo seven times last week. We have to maintain that pressure in order to rattle Leftwich and maintain control of the game.
Trust me; my roommate is a Steelers fan. All week, I've been buttering the hardwood floor right outside his bedroom in the morning. Psychological warfare can be a very effective tool.
Clean Up the Penalties
Oy, the penalties. The Browns DBs have to figure out a way to defend a talented receiver without committing a foul.
Joe Haden is the game-changer here. He practiced this week, which is encouraging, but he's going to have to play smart in order to neutralize Wallace and force Leftwich to get creative.
We just can't afford the penalties this time around. All indicators point to this being a low-scoring game, and every fifteen yards has the potential to change the outcome. Let's pull out the neck and the giblets and get to work.
Capitalize, Capitalize, Capitalize
I try not to guarantee things. That's a recipe for overconfidence and looking stupid in front of your brother, who is ordinarily the stupid one. However, I am close to guaranteeing that this game will be decided by a touchdown or less.
The Browns have to take every single play very seriously if they are going to win this game. Each kick and punt return, turnover and penalty hold the possibility of determining the outcome of the game. When my friends aren't looking, do you really think I won't take that opportunity to eat a handful of pie? Come on.
The Browns need a pie-sneaking state of mind on Sunday. The Steelers gained 109 more yards on offense than the Ravens last weekend—they lost anyway. The Browns could take a lesson from that; every opportunity must be seized.
Hopefully I can maintain my dignity this year among my roommate and best friend, both Steelers fans. Or I could just put peanut butter in their pillowcases again. Or both.