Week 12: Pittsburgh Steelers At Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers
Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers
Winner Byron Leftwich is under center in place of Ben Roethlisberger (ribs, shoulder) and he will remain the Steelers’ starter against the Browns. Leftwich led the Steelers to a touchdown against the archrival Ravens in the first drive of the game, but he did little after that. Leftwich has a long, awkward delivery and he is a target for opposing pass rushers.
Winner Brandon Weeden takes a lot of physical abuse, but he has played with courage. He played fairly well in the Browns’ Week 11 23-20 overtime loss to the Cowboys, throwing two TD passes. Weeden did not throw an interception in that game and he is improving each week.
Winner With the injury to Roethlisberger, the Steelers will be even more dependent on their ground game. That’s a good thing because Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer are both strong runners who will initiate contact and run in a north-south style. Heath Miller is an effective tight end while speedy Mike Wallace can be a difference maker if Leftwich can get him the ball.
The Browns want to establish Trent Richardson, but the rookie running back will almost certainly have issues with the Steelers defense. Richardson gained 95 yards against the Cowboys and he can be very difficult to tackle because he combines great moves with surprising power. Josh Gordon can go downfield and make long plays while Ben Watson is a solid short-area target.
Winner Despite playing without safety Troy Polamalu for much of the season, the Steelers have been impressive on defense. No surprise there. We can talk about technique and great coaching and that would be accurate, but the Steelers are a bunch of vicious hitters who can intimidate opponents. James Harrison, Larry Foote and Lamarr Woodley are dominant players who have an impact each week.
The Browns don’t win many games, but don’t blame the defense. They are a well-positioned and hard-hitting group that allows the Browns to compete despite a substandard offense. Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has a team-leading 10 tackle and he also has 3.0 sacks. Cornerback Buster Skrine has 66 tackles and 9 passes defensed.
Special Teams
The Steelers had been solid on special teams, but they gave up a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown to Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones in Week 11 and that was crucial in their loss to the Ravens. Shaun Suisham has had a remarkable year, making 21-of-22 field goal attempts.
Winner If the Browns can turn this into a four-quarter game that comes down to a late field goal, Phil Dawson gives them an advantage. So do their outstanding special teams. Josh Cribbs is one of the most dangerous return men in the league and he can erupt for a touchdown at any time.

The Winner Is

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers
Winner Steelers
3 out of 4

The Browns are going to clean house under new ownership at the end of the season, but considering that rather significant piece of news, the team has played hard and given a great effort. They just don’t have enough talented players to beat a good team like the Steelers unless they have a significant edge in the turnover battle.


  1. Mike Vick #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Philip Rivers  of the San Diego Chargers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Week 5 Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At San Diego Chargers

    The high-powered Pittsburgh offense was a bit out of sync against the Ravens in Week Four without Ben Roethlisberger, but it seemed like Mike Vick was pretty close to finding success.

  2. Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Giants quarterback Eli Manning. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Week 5 Tale Of The Tape: San Francisco 49ers At New York Giants

    Colin Kaepernick is under extreme pressure to produce at a high level. That has not been happening, and the 49ers are in danger of seeing their season fall apart.

  3. Peyton Manning (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 30: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders passes against the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 30, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Raiders 52-0.
    Week 5 Tale Of The Tape: Denver Broncos At Oakland Raiders

    Peyton Manning appears to have come to terms with the deficiencies in his game at this point. He can no longer whistle the ball downfield at the last minute, and some medium-range passes are difficult as well.

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