Friday, December 31, 2010

Steelers Game Day 16 - @ Cleveland Browns

Seems as if the regular season flew by. At the beginning you heard all the jokes say that this team just couldn't do it. The defnese was another year older and how in the world could this bad offensive line get by with Dennis Dixon and/or Byron Leftwhich. Eight wins one joke on The Fan said. other were going with 9-7. I stook pat thikning that a 10 win season was pretty reasonable. I was dead wrong. 11-4 going into week 16 against the Browns. Unreal.

Not only 12 wins but with a chance to be the #2 seed in the playoffs and win the AFC North. Just imagine if you had made that bet with the Bengals fans who were running their mouth at the beginning of the season. You would never have to work again in your life and they would still suck.

The Steelers got lucky with the schedule makers in a year where luck was hard to come by. After losing pretty much every starting lineman not named Pouncey for a portion of the season the Steelers needed to win out their final two games to secure the all important first round bye. The schedule maker Gods gave them Carolina and Cleveland. Back-to-back. Thank you. Maybe the two worst teams in the NFL. Now, I know people are going to say that any team can win on any given day but if the Steelers can't beat the Browns with what is on the line they don't deserve to make the playoffs.

Let's get to it.

Pittsburgh 27, Carolina 3
Passing: Roethlisberger: 22/33, 320 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 18 car, 65 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 4 rec, 104 yards, 1 TD


Baltimore 20, Cleveland 10
Passing: McCoy: 15/29, 149 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Hillis: 12 car, 35 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Bell: 2 rec, 48 yards, 0 TD


Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 340.5 yards/game (15th)
Cleveland: 294.0 yards/game (29th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 218.9 yards/game (16th)
Cleveland: 187.1 yards/game (30th)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 121.6 yards/game (9th)
Cleveland: 106.9 yards/game (19th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 22.3 points/game (17th)
Cleveland: 17.5 points/game (31st)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 280.3 yards/game (2nd)
Cleveland: 345.5 yards/game (21st)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 64.1 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 131.3 yards/game (26th)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 216.2 yards/game (14th)
Cleveland: 214.2 yards/game (13th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 14.9 points/game (1st)
Cleveland: 19.4 points/game (7th)

When asked about the Cleveland Browns/Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry at his presser on Thursday Mike Tomlin answer was as follows: “It is what it is”. Well said Mike. If “it is what it is” means totally dominating your “rival” then I guess you can call it that.

Since 2001 the Steelers are a gaudy 18-2 against the Browns, only losing one game in 2009 and one game in 2003. Over that span of 20 games, which includes a huge come from behind Steelers playoff win, the Black and Gold have outscored the Browns 24.8-14.5. Not real awe inspiring numbers from the Browns huh?

Although the Browns played a nice stretch of football through the middle of the season (where they won four of six games) they have really fallen off the proverbial wagon and really stunk the joint up in the past three weeks, most recently turning the ball over four times in a 20-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. A Cleveland win in that game could have given the Steelers a first round bye and sat them alone atop the AFC North, but why would the Browns want to do that?

Since this show started I always think of the Browns when it comes on. Mostly because I laugh at this intro, kinda like I laugh at the Browns. Get it?



Jump it.





Colt McCoy has been the man in Cleveland for much of the season after the Jake Delhomme experiment went painfully bad (shocker). McCoy has been better than expected this season (at least in my eyes) although he put on a real clinic on how to get thrown on the bench against Baltimore last week.

Strangely enough the only game that made you say “wow, this kid might be alright” was his first game play against the Steelers back in week six when he completed 23-of-33 passes for 281 yards, one touchdown and two picks. Granted this game was well out of hand when McCoy started slinging the football around, but nonetheless he still did show a little big.

Little bit is it. McCoy struggles to throw the downfield pass and his play has been erratic at best. Only five touchdown passes in 181 attempts. Not real great there Colt.

The second time around will give Dick and company a much better look at what McCoy has and I expect the Steelers to get after him early and often.

Hope McCoy bought life insurance.



It should be no secret that Peyton Hillis is what this offense runs through and when he struggles so does the team. Hillis has ran for over 100 yards on five different occations this season and the Browns have won three of those games. Coincidence? I think not. Let’s put it this way, would you want the fate of your team to solely be in the hands of a QB who either 1) Throws a TON of picks or 2) is a rookie in the NFL?

Didn’t think so.

While Hillis is a good runner he is also banged up. He took a shot to the back last night in the Ravens game early in the first quarter and he did not return for some time and then was basically invisible the rest of the game. Sounds like someone can’t get through a 16 game season. Hillis is going against the (far and away) best rush defense in the NFL so if he gets 30 yards I would honestly be surprised.

When your second leading rushers is your quarterback who has only played in seven NFL games this season you know your running game is about as strong as Lindsey Lohan’s will power. Actually Hillis is the only option they have. I mean when your second leading rusher has only 117 yards in the 16th week of an NFL season it is about time you pack it in.

What a joke.



Nobody outside of Josh Cribbs scars me on this team catching the football. Hell, Josh Cribbs doesn’t even scare when as a wide receiver. He scares me as a kick returner. I mean I know Colt McCoy is a rookie and what not but you are going to have to throw out a better “receiver” than Ben Watson if you want him to at least have the chance to be successful.

Unreal.

Peyton Hillis is the team’s second leading receiver. Let that sink in for a second. Ok, good. No matter how good your running back is he should not be your second leading receiver.

Mohamed Massaquoi and Chansi Stuckey are the first true wide receivers to crack the statistics column under “Receiving” so that is pretty interesting.

Someone on ESPN talked about Brian Robiskie when talking about Cleveland’s receivers and I thought he might not be on the Browns and ESPN made a mistake, but as it turns out I had to look further down on the statistics table to see that Robiskie is about as productive as an outdoor ice rink in Puerto Rico.



The left side of the Browns offensive line is actually pretty legit, which is probably a part of the reason that Peyton Hillis has had so much success this season. Alex Mack, Eric Steinbach and Pro Bowl selection Joe Thomas are no slouches.

No idea who Floyd Womack and John St. Claire are. When I first read the names I thought they said Tony Womack and Brian St. Pierre. Man if those two were on the right side of the Browns line I would go to Vegas and put my salary on the Steelers.



Check that, Tony Womack was sick.



T.J. Ward was taken in the second round before Colt McCoy in last years draft, much to the dismay of some of the Cleveland faithful. Pretty good pick.

Ward leads the team with 116 tackles from his safety position and has two picks to go along with it.

The corners for the Browns aren’t as terrible as you might think, especially with the recent play of Joe Haden. Haden has been a monster from the left corner position and has been as good as you can expect from a rookie corner. He has a team-high six INT’s, five of which have come since week 10. Not too shabby if you ask me.

When you really think about it, if you are Cleveland you have to be happy with the 2010 draft. Your top two picks have come in as rookies and made an immediate impact on your team, that is where you start to get better as a team. Too bad Jesus himself could play for the Browns and still not be good this year, or next year, but whatever.

Oh man, did I just give the Cleveland Browns credit.



Shain Rogers is still alive and kicking and playing some decent football. He is a pretty big force in the middle and it will be good to see what now Pro Bowl center Markice Pouncey does with him.

Kenyon Coleman and Brian Schaefering are the defensive ends. Yawn.

Matt Roth, Eric Barton, Chris Gocong and David Bowens are the linebackers. They have a combined for 5.5 sacks. James Harrison has 10 on his own and LaMarr Woodley has 8.5 by himself. Huh.

The Browns do play a hybrid 3-4 system so they do disguise some of their looks at the line of scrimmage making quarterbacks really read the defense and hopefully force a few mistakes that they can capitalize on. The Browns offense isn’t good enough to win games on their own so they have to play some take away and set their offense up in good positions to put points on the board. I think Ben is seasoned enough to know what to expect from this defense and to be honest even with the young talent that the Browns have I don’t think it will be enough, unless they get to Roethlisberger early and very often.


Thoughts:

I have to put this YouTube in. Just have to.



-First round bye on the line. The Steelers will be ok.

-Browns suck.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 3

Leave your thoughts in the comments.



Hit it.

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