Stillers - Browns Pre-game
I've struggled with analyzing the upcoming game against the Cleve Clowns. Pittsburgh has no confidence while the Browns are coming off a whipping of the Cinci Bungles. Cleveland has the home crowd , but Pittsburgh probably feels safer on the road these days. After a fair amount of time, I finally picked Pittsburgh over Cleveland - 14 to 13. Here's why:
Both teams offenses are weak and will struggle to put up points consistently in today's high-scoring NFL. While Couch seems to be improved, he lost two players (Jim Pyne-OL and JuJuan Dawson-WR) on offense and lacks playmakers. This will hurt the Browns. Pittsburgh has more big play threats in Burress (who, at 6'5" out-sizes the tallest starting CB by 7"), Edwards (who is questionable with a hamstring) and Huntley. The biggest intangible is actually the fact that the Pittsburgh offense is NOT at home and feeling the pressures eminent in Three Rivers.
Pittsburgh has a slight edge in the defensive category although the Clowns have improved tremendously. This is not the same team the Stillers played nearly one year ago so they cannot take them lightly. Despite Cleveland's vast improvement, though, Graham will have enough time to find receivers, which will in turn open up the run. Pass first and run later - that's my offensive key to the game.
The Special Teams
This is one area that the Stillers can not afford any slack. Giving up big returns or turning the ball over on special teams is the only fuel the Clowns will need to cash in on a victory. This week, Kris Brown will not have the luxury of missing any FG attempts - besides, I won't be able to stand seeing the near tear expression on his face if he does miss! My special teams key to the game is Ainsley Battles and his psychotic charges downfield on kick coverage. His efforts could result in a big play that squashes Cleveland's momentum and/or hands the Black 'n Gold the ball in prime Dawg Pound territory.
Keep you seats fastened, this week's game is going to be a nail biter!