TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: Cleveland Browns At Pittsburgh Steelers

View Comments
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Quarterback
The lowly Browns attracted a lot of attention during training camp as a result of the duel for the starting quarterback position between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. Neither quarterback distinguished himself during the summer, and that was a disappointment to the coaching staff. Hoyer appeared to play with some confidence before getting hurt last year, but Manziel is expected to take over this season.
Winner Ben Roethlisberger appears to be under significant pressure this season because the Steelers are no longer the defensive juggernaut that could shut down opponents. If they are going to do anything of significance this season, Roethlisberger must stay healthy, show touch on his short- and medium-range passes and demonstrate some consistency.
Offense
The Browns have to put a balanced attack on the field to have any chance of success. Ben Tate is a capable running back who can take advantage of missed tackles and small openings to provide a credible ground game. Former Cowboy Miles Austin should be able to get open, and tight end Jordan Cameron (80 receptions in 2013) has proven hands.
Winner Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount made headlines for the wrong reasons in training camp, but they should give head coach Mike Tomlin a credible running game if they can stay clean. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is coming off a breakout season in which he caught 110 passes last year, while tight end Heath Miller can make the clutch catch when the game is on the line.
Defense
The Browns may have one of the most underrated defenses in the AFC this season. While they don’t have a lot of big names, the additions of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and strong safety Donte Whitner will give this unit a nasty edge and physical presence that they did not have last year. Outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo are athletic and can get after the quarterback.
Winner The Steelers are hoping for some improvement in the run defense after ranking 18th in that category a year ago. Defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Cam Thomas are expected to anchor the defensive line, and neither player is a proven commodity. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons is a hard hitter who had 126 tackles last year. Strong safety Troy Polamalu lacks consistency at this point in his career.
Special Teams
Winner The Browns could get a lift from Travis Benjamin, who has more than enough speed to make a difference as a return specialist. Billy Cundiff is an average placekicker (21-of-26 on FG attempts), and the same can be said about punter Spencer Lanning, who averaged 43.8 yards last season.
The Steelers know what they are getting in placekicker Shaun Suisham. He has proved to be a steady performer who can kick successfully in the wind by making 30-of-32 FG attempts last season. Tomlin is hoping Brad Wing can upgrade the team’s punting.

The Winner Is

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Winner Pittsburgh Steelers
3 out of 4

The Steelers are a long way from being a dominant team, but they should have more than enough to handle the Browns in the opener. Cleveland’s inability to build a cohesive offense will cost them in this game and throughout the season.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports

View Comments

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: Miami Dolphins At New York Jets

    The Dolphins have played solid football throughout the season, and they had a fourth-quarter lead on the Broncos before getting hit hard in the final 15 minutes.

  2. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: Denver Broncos At Kansas City Chiefs

    Peyton Manning struggled during much of the Broncos’ three-game losing streak and for nearly a half in Week 12 against Miami, but the Broncos offense finally came together and Manning started dominating once again.

  3. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Green Bay Packers

    The Patriots continue to play sensational football as they took apart a good Detroit Lions team to stretch their winning streak to seven games.

See All Tales of the Tape
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 882 other followers