Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns: Six-pack of questions for the opponent

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Antonio Brown
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Antonio Brown /

The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns to open their 2017 season.

Before the Steelers kickoff for the first time against the Browns on Sunday, there are some things you should know about both teams. While this isn’t the most intense matchup Pittsburgh faces all year, it’s still the first time they’ll take the field against an opponent for a full four quarters in 2017.

For Steelers fans, there are some questions to know from the opposing side. So, Still Curtain went and brought some important topics to a Browns journalist with more knowledge of Cleveland than probably anyone wearing black and yellow Sunday.

Ryan Rosko, a contributor for Factory of Sadness, FanSided’s Cleveland based blog, may be on the wrong side of the table come kickoff, but for Steelers fans, he’s the best source for pregame answers on this heated AFC North rivalry.

Q: Cleveland has had a great offseason, and Hue Jackson is really turning the team around. What was their biggest move?

RR: Cleveland’s biggest move this past offseason was solidifying the offensive line. Right tackle is still a big question mark, but the signings of J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler made the Browns’ line a top three unit in all of the NFL. By adding those two players, Cleveland put together the best possible offensive line to protect DeShone Kizer both in the short and long-term.

Q: What are the realistic expectations for the Browns this season and Sunday?

RR: Cleveland is going to win more than one game — that is a given. They won’t be a playoff team, but finishing with six wins is very likely. If I had to pick a winner for Sunday, it would be Pittsburgh, but it is closer than many believe. Don’t expect Cleveland to be blown out. Then again don’t expect a high scoring game either. The Browns will keep it interesting but will fall short in 17-10 type of game.

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Q: What would a win over the Steelers in Week 1 mean for Cleveland?

RR: Momentum and confidence comes to mind instantly. Playing without Myles Garrett will be disappointing but seeing Kizer lead Cleveland to a win against a divisional opponent in his debut will mean a lot to both the team and their fans. By winning Sunday, the monkey will be off their back and in turn should shift conversations to the positive side in interviews (rather than facing more scrutiny and speculation).

Q: What Cleveland player will have the biggest impact on Sunday?

RR: Pittsburgh does well against the run but on Sunday that won’t matter. Cleveland’s offensive line will do more than enough to allow Isaiah Crowell to dominate. 20 plus carries for at least 90 yards, and a touchdown at worst should be his stat line.

Q: What matchup should the Steelers try to avoid in Week 1?

RR: The impact of Vance McDonald. Whether it is Jabrill Peppers, Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, or via a collective group effort, McDonald will be in for a long day. He very well could be the answer at tight end, but Pittsburgh would be better off getting the ball to their play-makers led by Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Joe Haden move? Was he worth $27 million? Does he really help the Steelers’ defense that much?

RR: Joe Haden has been a shell of himself for years. He hasn’t been the best corner for the Browns for some time too. That said, I am surprised Cleveland’s front office was not able to get anything for him. After all, they did get a fifth rounder from Kansas City for Cameron Erving.

Haden was not and will not be worth $27 million. It won’t be long before you will get aggravated and annoyed by his play. Haden is not going to be as bad as Justin Gilbert was with Pittsburgh. That said, expecting him to be a CB1 or even a CB2 all season is wishful thinking. Haden will help, but not a lot. If you are okay with him being a CB3 then Pittsburgh would be getting a lot out of him in that role.

Next: 3 matchups to watch for against Browns

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