Believe it or not, it can happen. There is always the possibility that the Browns will go into Pittsburgh on a Thursday night and beat the Steelers (after all, it has happened before, and with Brady Quinn no less).
The fact of the matter is, though, that the Steelers treat the Browns like a personal punching bag. Pittsburgh has won 14 of the last 15 match-ups and Thursday night’s tilt doesn’t seem to offer up any evidence that the outcome will be different.
Despite that, the Browns do have the ability to rise up to the occasion. It will take a great performance, a nearly flawless game in which they dominate the Steelers in some aspect. The defense has the ability to keep the Browns in the game, but it will be up to the offense to prove that it still has some fight in what has been a tough season.
Here’s how the Browns can in fact pull off the upset:
- Keep the score low: If you didn’t already know, the Browns have a pretty abysmal offense. Remarkably, the Browns do not have the worst offense in the NFL – there are still four teams with statistically worse offenses than Cleveland. Nevertheless, points will be hard to come by for the Browns, and the only way to win will come from the efforts of the defense. This can’t be a shootout- a 13-6 victory (which was the score of the Browns’ last win in 2009) might be necessary.
- Don’t turn the ball over: The Browns have no room for error in this game – the Steelers haven’t relented in pounding the Browns into the ground in the past and they certainly won’t let up now. The Browns will have to play a near-perfect game to win, and this isn’t a team that can overcome turnovers.
- Rely on the running game: This will be hard to do if the Browns fall behind early, but if the game is close or, believe it or not, the Browns have the lead, they will need to lean hard on Peyton Hillis and, hopefully, Montario Hardesty, who is listed as probable for the game.