Cats and dogs, oil and water, and the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are just some things that will never get along, no matter what.
The Browns and Steelers have been rivals since 1950. Fast forward 73 years later and nothing has changed. This next matchup between the bitter rivals will take place on the national stage on Monday Night Football. This will be the 144th meeting between the Browns and Steelers but only the third time that they have faced off on Monday Night Football.
Cleveland comes into Week 2 off of a dominating performance that saw their defense hold an explosive Cincinnati Bengals offense to only three points. The old adage is that defense travels. Well, this defense is traveling to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers team that only managed to score seven points in their season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
For the Browns winning in Pittsburgh, a place that have historically struggled, could be an indication that the franchise has leveled up. Overall, there is a clear talent discrepancy between these two rosters that favors Cleveland. But it will be up to the Browns to handle their business and show the rest of the league that this team is truly different.
Here are three matchups that will be the keys to victory for the Browns on MNF
Matchup No. 3: Deshaun Watson vs Minkah Fitzpatrick
The Steelers secondary has a lot of question marks. However, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is not among them. The ball hawking safety finished the 2022 season tied for the league lead in interceptions. Fitzpatrick has taken four interceptions to the house for touchdowns in his six year career and is coming off of his third First Team All-Pro nomination. Bottom line, Fitzpatrick is a problem.
Deshaun Watson and the Browns are still looking to unlock their passing attack. The weather made that feat next to impossible in the season opener, but there certainly going to make another go at it Monday night in Pittsburgh. That's where this matchup between Watson and Fitzpatrick comes into play.
If the Browns want to unlock their potential for hitting explosive plays in their passing game, they will need to key in on number 39. There are multiple ways to accomplish it, but the main two ways to manipulate Fitzpatrick are through formations and alignment and Deshaun Watson’s eyes. Fitzpatrick is a savvy player and confusing him through formations will only work but so much.
It is imperative that Watson manipulates Fitzpatrick with his eyes on Monday night. If Watson stares down a receiver on a deep shot, Fitzpatrick will, at minimum, be there to make a play on the ball. Given Fitzpatrick’s track record and proclivity for not only taking the ball away but also being incredibly dangerous once he has the ball, neutralizing him should be priority No. 1 for Watson this week.