Cleveland Browns: Keys to an upset victory over Pittsburgh
As every game has been for Cleveland thus far, Sunday will present the Browns’ offensive line with a unique challenge. Pittsburgh possesses a stout front seven in their 3-4 scheme, led by defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
The group of linebackers the Steelers have also include some of the top young defenders in the league. Ryan Shazier, Aurthur Moats, Lawrence Timmons, and Jarvis Jones have proven to be fierce and fearless, and are poised to give Cleveland’s offensive line fits.
Statistically though, the Steelers are not as elite defensively as they normally are. Ranking just 15th against the run and 28th against the pass, teams have successfully exploited the holes in their defense in past weeks.
There is potential for the Browns to do the same, but they must protect the quarterback. In order to give Cody Kessler an opportunity to continue his growth this Sunday, he has to have time. Also, against a vulnerable Pittsburgh secondary, pass protection is even more critical. The Browns would like to take a lot of deep shots, so having a pocket intact for an extra few seconds would allow Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman ample time to get downfield.
The good news is, the Steelers have the second-fewest sacks in the NFL this season. The bad news is, the Browns have allowed the second-most.
The edges of the offensive line will be critical in this game, as Pittsburgh’s four linebackers will use their speed to attack from the outside. This is why Joe Thomas and Austin Pasztor must have excellent games. If they do, and if the hits Pittsburgh gets on Kessler are limited, Cleveland will have the opportunities they want to do damage through the air.