Browns-Steelers Preview: Early Season Showdown In The Powerful AFC North

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(CBS Pittsburgh) — The Pittsburgh Steelers remained undefeated in Week 5, pushing apart the Philadelphia Eagles to earn their fourth win of the season. However 4 wins isn’t sufficient to regulate an AFC North with two different four-win groups. The Baltimore Ravens additionally dispatched with the cellar-dwelling Cincinnati Bengals to get to 4-1. And the Cleveland Browns, who the Steelers will host in Week 6, fended off the Indianapolis Colts to remain tied with the Ravens.

The AFC North continues to be the hardest division in soccer this season, with three early-season playoff contenders. And this week’s Browns-Steelers matchup needs to be but extra proof of that. Pittsburgh has owned the rivalry for a lot of the final twenty years. However this 12 months feels a bit completely different.

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“I believe what makes this sport an ideal one is that each groups are successful,” says Invoice Cowher, former NFL coach and studio analyst on The NFL As we speak. “Cleveland is 4-1, Pittsburgh is 4-0. Having coached in Pittsburgh and performed and coached in Cleveland, I discover each of the cities very related. They’re each blue-collar cities, very passionate sports activities followers, and they’re very keen about their native groups. If you have a look at this sport, it goes again to the truth that Cleveland for the primary time there’s no drama in Cleveland, they appear very centered.”

The Steelers are additionally very centered, with a menacing protection and Ben Roethlisberger again beneath heart.  After a gap possession that gained one yard on six performs, they reeled off 5 straight scoring drives towards an overmatched Eagles protection. They held a commanding 31-14 lead halfway by way of the third quarter, which proved sufficient to fend off a late surge from Carson Wentz.

Rookie Chase Claypool, a second-round pick of Notre Dame, was the hero of the day. He hauled in seven of his 11 targets, three of which went for touchdowns, and racked up 110 receiving yards and one other speeding landing. However he had assist. Ben Roethlisberger accomplished 27 of his 34 cross makes an attempt for 231 yards, spreading the ball round to eight completely different receivers. The run sport was inefficient, although Ray-Ray McCloud ripped off a 58-yard run within the third quarter to skew the stats.

>>READ: Invoice Cowher On Ben Roethlisberger: ‘He’s Having A Lot Of Enjoyable Enjoying The Recreation’

Large Ben is taking part in with a brand new perspective and a renewed sense of goal. “He’s a veteran man with loads of younger gamers round him,” notes Cowher. “I believe he’s the chief and must be there. It’s a stable offensive line. He’s taking part in actually good soccer. He’s not forcing issues. It’s a really unselfish group of receivers. You don’t hear anyone yelling, wanting the ball. He has simply been in a position to sit there and take what the protection has been giving him.”

Roethlisberger additionally advantages from a powerful protection that stepped up final season in his absence and has carried their depth ahead into this season. In solely 4 video games, they’re tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 20. “They may harass you, they put strain on you, they drive you to be affected person,” says Cowher. “And, if there’s alternatives there, you higher seize them, as a result of they arrive after you, they usually’re relentless in doing so.”

That was actually the case final week. They sacked Wentz 5 occasions and held the Eagles speeding assault to simply 94 yards. The Steelers protection additionally tightened up when it needed to, stopping the driving Eagles twice late.

>>READ: Fantasy Soccer Waiver Wire Week 6: Travis Fulgham Rising As Carson Wentz Favourite Goal

The Browns managed to beat one other of the NFL’s higher defenses of their most up-to-date win. They scored a pair of discipline targets and a pair of touchdowns on their 4 first-half possessions. A pick-six early within the second half would prolong their result in 27-10, at the least momentarily, because the Colts’ Isaiah Rodgers returned the following kickoff 101 yards for a TD. Baker Mayfield struggled to get something going after halftime, however the protection held robust. Myles Garrett compelled Philip Rivers into a security, and the Browns held on for a 32-23 win.

“Kevin Stefanski has achieved an excellent job of placing an offense in that Baker Mayfield seems very comfy operating,” says Cowher. “They’re operating the soccer. They’ve a revamped offensive line. Invoice Callahan, I believe, is among the finest coaches within the Nationwide Soccer League at teaching the offensive line. The defensive entrance has been superb, led by Myles Garrett. This can be a good soccer staff.”

The win over the Colts was the type of sport the Browns are used to dropping. The truth that they held on, even within the face of some adversity, has to excite a fanbase used to the staff folding on the first signal of strife.

>>READ: NFL Week 6 AFC East Picks: ‘Jets Worst Staff In The League By A Lot Of Metrics’ Says SportsLine’s Larry Hartstein

They’ll face extra adversity in Pittsburgh, however the Browns appear to be as much as the duty. As Cowher sees it, “that is nonetheless an announcement sport for them, going up once more Pittsburgh, who has additionally gained 4 video games, at 4-0. It’s been Pittsburgh and Baltimore for therefore a few years, I believe, proper now, it’s an ideal alternative for Cleveland to make an announcement and say, you already know what, we’re going to problem for this division as nicely.”

The Browns play the Steelers Sunday, October 18 @ 1:00 ET on CBS.

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