The Cleveland Browns Will Win The AFC Wild Card So we just did this last week. What did the Browns do right to get into the playoffs besides get to play against QB Mason Rudolph and a team that didn’t really need to win?
Again, this isn’t a game the Steelers needed, but the defense still gave it a shot and struggled against the Brown ground game that’s third in the NFL and great at cranking out yards in chunks.
Yes, it’ll be a talking point that it took everything in the bag to get by when Cleveland was really, really, really trying to win, but Pittsburgh is really, really, really struggling.
It had a good half against Indianapolis to get by 28-24 just after Christmas to get the No. 3 seed, and that’s been about it. The team hasn’t exactly been sharp over the last several weeks, with that the lone win in five games.
There’s absolutely no Steeler running game – it’s dead last in the league overall and without and big dashes – with just one 100-yard day in the last 11 games, but that’s been okay. The team was able to get to 11-0 without being anything special on the ground, but now there’s another issue.
The defense isn’t taking the ball away.
Cleveland is hardly a perfect team, but it doesn’t turn the ball over. There were two giveaways in the clunker against the Jets, but that’s been about it – the Browns haven’t given it up multiple times in any of the other games over the last ten, and Pittsburgh could use the help.
NEXT: Why The Pittsburgh Steelers Will Win The AFC Wild Card
Why The Pittsburgh Steelers Will Win The AFC Wild Card
Cleveland doesn’t force turnovers.
It’s a bit weird since the defense is solid and the pass rush is great, but the mistakes aren’t coming with just one lonely takeaway in the last four games. Now, when the Browns come up with multiple takeaways they’re 6-0, but Pittsburgh doesn’t have a huge giveaway problem.
Pittsburgh has been playing for weeks like a team that just wants to get the NFL Playoffs going already. It might have fallen off a cliff, but it didn’t pay for it too badly with a 3 seed going into the tournament.
Ben Roethlisberger is rested after not even making the trip to Cleveland last week, the receiving corps is dangerous, and this defense is still really, really good.
– CFN Experts Picks: NFL Wild Card Weekend
The run defense has been just okay, but it hasn’t allowed a 275-yard passer this season and it’s still great at coming up with a steady pass rush and owning third downs. So now the formula that worked so well over the first half of the season has to ramp back up again with a rejuvenated team.
Get Roethlisberger in an early groove, keep spreading it around against a secondary that allows too many mid-range to deep shots, and let the defense take care of the rest.
NEXT: What’s Going To Happen In The AFC Wild Card
What’s Going To Happen In The AFC Wild Card
Can Pittsburgh just turn it on?
It has a breathtakingly great defense when everything is working, more big-time passing weapons than needed, and enough good parts to make a big run through this if the team plays up to its full capabilities.
Great defense, veteran quarterback, solid head coach with a Super Bowl ring, and …
No running game whatsoever.
Cleveland has a weird habit of stalling from time to time. It was good enough to hang 40+ in back-to-back games against Tennessee and Baltimore, but only scored ten against Houston and 16 against the Jets.
It also scored a mere seven points in its first meeting with Pittsburgh in Week 6.
It’ll score more than that this time around.
The Steeler defense will rise up early on, and Ben Roethlisberger will lead the way to a too-easy early score and a lead through the first half, and then everything will stall.
Baker Mayfield will open up the second half with a sharp touchdown drive with two key third down throws to get back in the game.
Pittsburgh will follow with a quick three-and-out – helped by a dropped pass on what would’ve been a big play – Cleveland will score again, and it’ll be in control the rest of the way.
It’ll be a best game of the three this season.
Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction, AFC Wild Card Line
Cleveland 24, Pittsburgh 23
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