The Browns have bettered themselves each year, but not at an NFL pace.
You can take all that talk about throwing the stats out the window, and throw it out the window. I have to call it as I see it.
Steelers Keys on Offense
The best and worst thing about Tommy Maddox is his short memory. I think we can open up the running game this week and burn Cleveland's defense deep the moment they put eight in the box.
Don't be fooled by their pass defense stats because when you give up 5.3 yards per carry, teams are not going to feel the need to go deep on you. I think they are missing Corey Fuller's run support and are having difficulty finding balance without exposing big plays.
Jamal Lewis predicted he would break the rushing record against them and then did it. Amos Zereoue on good home turf has a very good chance of breaking large chunks around the strong side; screens and TE passes look inviting on 3rd downs.
On paper, this game begs for classic Bettis, but that would invite a very real danger. The Steelers have too many better weapons, and the only thing preventing victory is Pittsburgh pounding the ball down to the red-zone and then playing dead. They can't become so involved with fixing the red-zone problems that they keep Cleveland in the game. Killing an entire quarter for three points does just that.
Steelers Keys on Defense
Paul Zukauskas made his first start of the season at right guard last Sunday. Shaun O'Hara (the starter at right guard) was moved to left guard in place of Melvin Fowler. LT Barry Stokes has been nursing a sprained right ankle for weeks. Cleveland actually drafted a center with the 24th pick last draft, (Jeff Faine) and he will get his first introduction to Casey Hampton. Expect some OL miscues.
The Browns could end up playing Nate Hybl at QB if they don't keep someone back there to protect Couch. At some point we will see Holcomb.
Any time I hear the name Tim Couch it is almost always followed by the name Kevin Johnson. If the Steelers can take away Johnson and apply some heat, I think they will rattle Couch into "throwing some picks" their way.
Steelers Keys on Special Teams
Cowher's plan to not do anything differently in special teams worked wonders last week, and I hope he doesn't do it again this week. If we get continued success from nothing, that would really be something. "When nothing works, you shouldn't do anything."
One player I might try is to keep a hat on is rookie LB Chuan Thompson. He has found a niche as Cleveland's best tackler on special teams.
A Fans look at the Division
The Steelers playing .500 ball never looked so good, and a win Sunday puts them half way through sweeping their division. At that point, 3-2 never looked so good.
The Ravens get an early bye week this season, and they should be good and tuckered out for the rematch.
The Bengals are going to drive to Buffalo and cheer up our old friend Mr. Donahoe. No matter what happens in this game it's OK with me.
Fan Keys for rooting on the Steelers
We're too close to Cleveland geographically and that means lots of visitors dressed up in dog costumes, I guess. Cleveland is also too close to us geographically and it's a shame so many small children are afraid of clowns, but we should remember to treat our visitors with respect, even if some of them do act like they are from France or something.
What I thought might be a nice gesture is if we all went out and bought those little CO2 air-horns for the game. I have seen a single such device break an athlete's concentration at the professional level, but 60,000 of them? It would be great if the Steelers could sponsor CO2 air-horn night for the game, but the league would probably frown upon it.