Friday, December 28, 2012

Steelers Game 16 Preview - vs. Cleveland Browns

Last game of the season and the Steelers are fighting to get back to .500. They are going to be playing the Browns who beat them the last time out thanks to the Steelers turning the ball over eight different times. Since then the Steelers have continued to spiral while the Browns actually have played some half decent football, winning a few games.

This game means nothing. Not for the Steelers and not for the Browns. Sure, it could help draft position but does that even really matter much anymore? I am not sure if it does. I know the Steelers players don't want to finish 7-9 and I expect they come out to win it.

Lets get to the preview:
The stats:

Last Week:

Cincinnati 13, Pittsburgh 10
Passing: Roethlisberger: 14-28, 220 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 11 car., 50 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Brown: 5 rec., 97 yards, 1 TD

Denver 34, Cleveland 12
Passing: Weeden: 12-19, 104 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Richardson: 9 car., 53 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Little: 6 rec., 58 yards, 1 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 340.8 yards/game (21st)
Cleveland: 313.9 yards/game (27th)

Pittsburgh: 244.4 yards/game (11th)
Cleveland: 216.9 yards/game (20th)

Pittsburgh: 96.4 yards/game (26th)
Cleveland: 97.0 yards/game (25th)

Pittsburgh: 20.8 points/game (22nd)
Cleveland: 19.5 points/game (t23rd)


Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 272.9 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 373.9 yards/game (24th)

Pittsburgh: 185.4 yards/game (1st)
Cleveland: 253.5 yards/game (27th)

Pittsburgh: 87.5 yards/game (2nd)
Cleveland: 120.5 yards/game (19th)

Pittsburgh: 20.3 points/game (10th)
Cleveland: 22.9 points/game (19th)

All-Time Record vs. Cleveland: 62-57-0 (2-0 Playoffs)

Last Five Meetings
November 25, 2012 – Cleveland 20, Pittsburgh 14
January 1, 2012 – Pittsburgh 13, Cleveland 9
December 8, 2011 – Pittsburgh 14, Cleveland 3
January 2, 2011 – Pittsburgh 41, Cleveland 9
October 17, 2010 – Pittsburgh 28, Cleveland 10

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview

Just a heads up that for this preview I was not able to give you much. I am at home and with Christmas and family stuff and finally seeing some friends that I don’t see since I live in another state I really didn’t have any time to do my normal in depth preview. I did as best I could with the time I had. Hopefully this works for you all.

Statistics Definitions (all used from Football Outsiders):

DYAR: Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement. This gives the value of the player's performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.

DVOA: Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This number represents value, per play, over an average player in the same game situations. The more positive the DVOA rating, the better the player's performance. Negative DVOA represents below-average offense.

ALY: Adjusted Line Yards. Based on regression analysis, the Adjusted Line Yards formula takes all running back carries and assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on the following percentages:

• Losses: 120% value
• 0-4 Yards: 100% value
• 5-10 Yards: 50% value
• 11+ Yards: 0% value

These numbers are then adjusted based on down, distance, situation, opponent, and the difference in rushing average between shotgun compared to standard formations. Finally, we normalize the numbers so that the league average for Adjusted Line Yards per carry is the same as the league average for RB yards per carry.

Power Success: Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer. This is the only statistic on this page that includes quarterbacks.

Stuffed: Percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. Since being stuffed is bad, teams are ranked from stuffed least often (#1) to most often (#32).


Starter: Thad Lewis. Yea, for real

Statistics: None. He has never played a down in the NFL in his two seasons.

Notes: He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Duke where he threw for 10,064 yards and 40 touchdowns. His last meaningful game snap was in 2009. Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy were both ruled out due to injury on Friday so that left Lewis to start. He doesn’t even have a picture on the Browns website. Yea, it’s that bad.

Running Back

Starter: Montario Hardesty

Statistics: 51 carries, 234 yards, one touchdown. One rush of 20 yards or more.

Advanced Statistics: -19 DYAR, -17.7% DVOA

Notes: Trent Richardson was ruled out leaving third down back Hardesty as the starter. So far this season he hasn’t really done a whole lot. He carried the ball 15 times for 56 yards and a touchdown on October 14 against the Bengals and had a ten carry, 52 yard game against the Chiefs earlier this month. The last time against the Steelers he had two carries for 14 yards. He only has two catches on the season so he won’t be overly used in the passing game.

Backup: Nobody. The next leading rusher that will play is a receiver.


Starter: Josh Gordon

Statistics: 46 catches, 766 yards, five touchdowns, 12 catches of 20 yards or more.

Advanced Statistics: 73 DYAR (45th among qualified receivers), -1.0% DVOA (44th), 52% catch rate (not very good)

Notes: Gordon is the big play receiver for the Browns. After a really solid middle of the season surge he hasn’t played well at all. Only had one catch for seven yards last week and three catches for 27 yards the week before. He did have a season-high eight catches for 86 yards three weeks ago but hasn’t scored a touchdown since a December 2nd win over the Raiders. Last time against the Steelers he had four catches for 60 yards.

Starter: Greg Little

Statistics: 50 catches, 609 yards, three touchdowns, ten catches of 20 yards or more.

Advanced Statistics: -8 DYAR (71st), -10.4% DVOA (67th), 58% Catch Rate

Notes: Little is a guy that has some talent but has had some real trouble holding onto the football. He has actually been a pretty nice secondary target this year for a team that has struggled to throw the football. He has caught for 50 yards or more in five of the last seven games and has four or more catches in the last four. Last week he made six catches for 58 yards and a score while catching five passes for 74 yards the week prior.

Starter (Tight End): Ben Watson

Statistics: 42 catches, 437 yards, three touchdowns, five catches of 20 yards or more.

Advanced Statistics: -49 DYAR (42nd among qualified tight ends), -16.9% DVOA (40th), 58% Catch Rate

Notes: Watson has been a main pass catching target for the Browns. He hasn’t had a 100 yard game yet this season but has been more productive recently. Last week he caught three passes for 47 yards and had a season-high six catches for 80 yards three weeks ago. Against the Steelers four weeks ago he had only three catches for 26 yards.

Backup: Travis Benjamin

Statistics: 14 catches, 255 yards, two touchdowns.

Notes: Has been more involved in the offense the last two weeks as he has been all season. Three catches for 46 yards last week and accounted for a touchdown on one catch for 69 yards two weeks ago. He has been targeted 31 times this season but hasn’t been targeted more than three times since the middle of October.

Offensive Line

Starters (left to right): Joe Thomas, John Greco, Alex Mack, Shawn Lauvao, Mitchell Schwartz

Advanced Statistics: 4.03 ALY (18th), 52% Power Success Rate (30th), 19% Stuffed Rank (17th)

Running Area Success: Left End (4.45 ALY, 10th), Left Tackle (3.64, 23rd), Middle/Guard (4.04, 16th), Right Tackle (4.01, 17th), Right End (6.05, 2nd)

Run Frequency (how often they run to area): Left End (6%), Left Tackle (19%), Middle/Guard (58%), Right Tackle (13%), Right End (4%)

Pass Blocking: 32 sacks (league average is 34), adjusted sack rate of 5.7% (11th)

Notes: The Browns have very solid pieces to the offensive line. Joe Thomas is one of the best in the game and Alex Mack is a very solid center in the division. They rank fairly well when they run to the right end but they have only run 4% of the time to the right end in their 330 running back carries so I don’t really think that statistic holds true to how well they may run to the right end. Like most teams they run up the middle but they are around middle of the pack in that.


Advanced Statistics: Total Defense: 19th (3.7% DVOA), Pass Defense: 19th (9.9%), Rush Defense: 18th (-4.3%).

Rush Defense Advanced Statistics: ALY Allowed: 4.29 (24th), Power Success Against: 78% (30th), Stuffed Rank: 15% (31st)

Running Area Success Against: Left (offensive) End (4.63 ALY, 26th), Left Tackle (4.35, 23rd), Middle/Guard (4.14, 16th), Right Tackle (4.10, 18th), Right End (5.94, 32nd)

Run Frequency Against : Left End (8%), Left Tackle (24%), Middle/Guard (47%), Right Tackle (17%), Right End (4%)

Pass Defense Against: 36 sacks, 6.2% Adjusted Sack Rate (21st), vs. #1 Receivers: -2.4% DVOA (16th), vs. #2 Receivers: 4.0% DVOA (19th), vs. Tight End: 1.1% DVOA (19th), vs. Running Backs: -3.0% DVOA (15th).

Notes: D’Qwell Jackson leads the team with 113 total tackles and also has a pair of interceptions and 3.5 sacks. Juqua Parker leads the team with 6.0 sacks and has 22 tackles while Jabaal Sheard has 5.0 sacks and Frostee Rucker has 4.0 sacks.

Game Thoughts:

-This might be the last game we see from Mike Wallace in a Steelers uniform. He is ruled out of the game and will not be playing. Mike Adams will also be out of the game but most all others are going to be playing for the Steelers, unlike the Browns. The Browns will be missing their top two quarterbacks and their top running back. That offense was bad but now, wow.

-The Steelers are looking to stay at the .500 mark for the season. I don’t know how it came to this but after starting the season 6-3 I don’t think too many people thought that the Steelers might have a chance to finish the season under .500. Just some really bad times for the Steelers.

-With no chance for the playoffs this is a weird time for the Steelers. They haven’t played very many meaningless games where they have missed out on the playoffs so this is kind of a lame duck preview and unfortunately with me being home and seeing friends and family I wasn’t able to do much with this preview so I hope this was somewhat helpful.

PREDICTION: I have no idea. The Browns are bad and I guess as long as the Steelers don’t turn the ball over eight times they should get a win. I mean the Browns literally have zero skill position players left to play for a third string quarterback while the Steelers are fairly healthy. Steelers 24, Browns 13.

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