Week 5 Preview: Cleveland at Pittsburgh

What's the best cure for the Pittsburgh Steeler blues? Why a visit from the Cleveland Browns. Especially when the Browns are as overmatched as they have been since their franchise's first season.

Yet, we all know what happened that season. The Steelers thrashed the Browns 43 – 0 in Cleveland on opening night. The Browns returned the favor later that season in a game in which many fans thought the Steelers would get their winning ways back on track. That's the infamous Kordell Stewart-interception-during-a-screen-pass-from-inside-his-own-20 game.

The Steelers of 2003 however are seemingly more talented than that group from 1999, but based on the abnormal ways they are losing games this season, no one really knows what will happen on Sunday. One thing is for certain. The Steelers will stake an early lead. What they choose to do with it is the concern here.

The Browns enter the game with no visible running threat, a shattered linebacking corps, a weak secondary and Tim Couch behind center. On the other hand, what they do have is a quartet of receivers that continually give the Steeler defensive backs fits.

OFFENSE

Pittsburgh: Ranked 3rd (Passing 1st, Rushing 23rd) Although the stats are a little misleading, the Steelers need to get the running game going against a "finesse" defense.

Cleveland Ranked 30th (Passing 23rd, Rushing 29th) The Browns' quartet of receivers are the only thing to fear on this team. Jeff Faine will have his hands full all day with Casey Hampton.

Advantage: In theory the Steelers have the advantage…remember I said in theory.

DEFENSE

Pittsburgh Ranked 2nd (Passing 2nd, Rushing 6th) Although lacking a serious playmaker, the Steelers defense stat-wise is playing superbly. Now, if they could only play superbly within the red-zone.

Cleveland Ranked 14th (Passing 4th, Rushing 27th) The Browns' defensive unit is playing better than originally expected. But the real question is whether Jamal Lewis' display hinted toward the true identity of the unit.

Advantage: The Steelers defense won't give the Browns much running room and will give up the occasional big passing play but beyond that not much.

QUARTERBACKS

Tommy Maddox: Will we see Turnover Tommy or Touchdown Tommy? Well, the week is an odd week, so I'm betting on the Touchdown version.

Tim Couch: He's never had much success against the Steelers stat-wise, but when he gets into a rhythm he's hard to stop.

Advantage: Maddox has the advantage.

OUTLOOK: The Steelers head into Colorado with a 3 – 2 record and, once again, newfound confidence. Steelers by 13.


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