Friday, December 30, 2016

Browns Preview 12.30.16: Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The (1-15) Cleveland Browns travel to Pittsburgh to take on the (10-5) Steelers. This is going to be a weird game for a few reasons. First off, the Steelers are expected to sit Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown this week since they already clinched the third seed in the AFC playoff standings. On the other hand if the Browns lose this week, they will clinch the 1st overall pick for the first time since 2000.

Browns Offense vs Steelers Defense

It sounds like Robert Griffin III will start this week, since he was cleared to be taken out of Concussion protocol. If Griffin doesn't start, Cody Kessler will start in place of him. Another a few other shifts on the offensive line. Jonathan Cooper was released this week and Alvin Bailey was activated off of the suspension list and will start this week. Cam Erving will shift over to right tackle in place of Austin Pasztor and either Anthony Fabiano or Gabe Ikard will start at center this week.

The game plan this week should be the same as the past few weeks with Griffin at quarterback. Use Griffin's legs to set up the zone-read running game for Isaiah Crowell. The Browns should run the ball a lot to the right to test Cam Erving at right tackle. It will be interesting to see if the Browns active Darius Jackson this week. Jackson was claimed a few weeks ago from Dallas and has yet to be activated for a game.

The passing game should be the same also. Take some shots down field to keep the defense honest, but overall just take what the defense gives Griffin. Corey Coleman should get a lot of targets since Terrelle Pryor is still banged up. Duke Johnson should get his normal touches out of the backfield in the check down game.

Browns Defense vs Steelers Offense

Landry Jones will be starting this week for the Steelers. He has a career record of 1-2. And the one win was against the Browns last year when he got hurt and Big Ben replaced him. DeAngelo Williams will start and get the bulk of the carries with Bell out.

The Steelers should play conservatively. They don't want anyone to get hurt this game, whether its a backup or a starting offensive lineman. So heavy running, winning the time of possession, and limiting turnovers is going to be their game plan for this week,

The Browns will need to force a turnover or two to be able to pull out this game. And to do that they need to get pressure on Jones. Jamar Taylor should get multiple opportunities to make a play this.  On the run defense side, Shelton needs to set the tone at the line of scrimmage since DeAngelo Williams will get the start and many carries.

Five Guys to Watch

Cam Erving: Cam's is getting his first start at right tackle and it sounds like he could be the right tackle in 2017.

Robert Griffin III: This could be his last start in a Browns uniform. The Browns will need to make a decision about him this off-season and depending how things go, Griffin could be out of the NFL.

Isaiah Crowell: It will be interesting to see how the running game will play with a new look offensive line. Crowell is 200 yards away from 1000 for the season. Yes it seems unlikely but hey...its something to watch out for.

Emmanual Ogbah: Ogbah will need to get to the quarterback this week. Hopefully Ogbah can close out this year on a high note. He's played really well since moving to the defensive line.

Danny Shelton: The Steelers are going to run the ball with Williams a lot this week. Shelton is an easy pick this week. He needs to set the line of scrimmage and can't let the Steelers running game get into a rhythm.

Injury Report
Betting Line: Pittsburgh -6

Prediction: 24-17 Steelers

Don't worry Browns fans, they clinch the number one overall pick and draft talk can begin next week. The only good thing about this week 17 is that no changes should be made on "Black Monday". The Browns didn't go 1-15, aren't firing coaches, and clinched the number one overall pick...I'd say that a fairly successful "try-out" year.

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