The Pittsburgh Steelers(3-1) host the Cleveland Browns (1-4) this Sunday at Heinz Field. On paper this is a big time mismatch and it should be. Especially considering that the Browns have injuries to both Jake Dellehome (not a huge loss) and Seneca Wallace, who's probably their best option at the position.
The Browns will be starting rookie Colt McCoy at quarterback. McCoy was a great college quarterback at the University of Texas, taking them to the National Championship game, and holds the record for most wins in college football history. This will be McCoy's first career start.
The Browns don't offer much on offense. They have a really talented offensive line, lead by All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas.
The Browns have had some success on the ground game thanks to that offensive line and Peyton Hillis. Hillis is a power-runner who can line up as a taiback and/or fullback. He ran for over 100 yards against the Bengals and Ravens. I don't see him having over 100 yards this Sunday but he could get some second-effort yardage.
Joshua Cribbs is their only other offensive threat. Cribbs has had some big plays against the Steelers in the past, especially returning kicks.
Cribbs will also line up at quarterback in the Browns version of the wildcat.
On defense, the Browns are average at best. The Browns are 13th overall in points allowed per game, and just 21st overall in yards allowed per game. The Steelers should be able to move the ball against the Browns.
That's all great, but lets face it, this game is about No. 7. This game is about the return of Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben makes his return after facing a harsh suspension by Roger Goodell for "breaking the code of conduct policy." Even though the Steelers went 3-1 without Ben, they will be a way better, more complete team with him.
The Steelers are second to last in passing through four games, and that can't happen in this era of football. This is a passing league, and the Steelers won their last two Super Bowls with a passing offense lead by Roethlisberger. Ben has had great success against the Browns in his career, only losing to them once, and that came last year.
Hines Ward and Heath Miller's numbers should go up drastically after this week. Both of them are Ben's trusty targets and Ben will look to them early and often.
The running game has been very good this year, and can be even more productive with the threat of the passing game. It should also help with play-action, screen plays, and with draws for Rashard Mendenhall.
Defensively, this should be the easiest game of the season for the Steelers. This is a run-first team they're playing and are facing a rookie qb, which doesn't bold well for the Browns as pointed out by my former barstool partner Bill Kostkas.
The only way the Steelers lose this game is if they let up big plays on special teams and turn the ball over more than two times. The Steelers are -13.5 point favorites and should be. I think Ben plays well and the Steelers win big.
Prediction: Steelers 31-Browns 10
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