Will Steelers take advantage of remaining divisional games?

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to FirstEnergy Stadium for their first game against the Cleveland Browns. How important will Pittsburgh’s divisional games be?

Inner divisional matchups are vital in the National Football League. At the end of the regular season, teams with the best divisional records advance to the playoffs. Achieving a divisional title is an easier task for some teams than for others. If the Steelers plan on participating in the 2021 playoffs, they must persevere past their divisional opponents. This Sunday, it’s the Cleveland Browns.

Pittsburgh has not had an easy season. Their regular-season schedule has been rigorous. Teams such as the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, and Green Bay Packers have all faced off against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has managed to uphold a 3-3 record despite it all.

Five out of the six opponents thus far have been non-divisional foes. As the middle of the schedule approaches, the Steelers will prepare for a stretch of rivalry games.

The Cleveland Browns are the next challenge for the Steelers. Cleveland has won fifty-seven percent of their games this season. Their 4-3 record has them ranked as the third-best team in the division.

A Pittsburgh win could propel the Steelers from fourth to third place in the AFC North. Conquering the Browns has not been as easy as years prior. Pittsburgh has maintained a 3-2 advantage over the Browns since 2019 but has lost the last two matchups.


All Hands on Deck

Matt Canada and the offense will play a huge role in Sunday’s game. Pittsburgh is 3-0 when they score twenty or more points this season. Finding ways to get Najee Harris involved has worked for Pittsburgh during the last month of football. His performance will impact the fluidity of the offense this week.

When Harris has carried the ball at least sixteen times the Steelers have not lost. The rushing attack will allow Ben Roethlisberger and Diontae Johnson to contribute on offense as well. Johnson has been targeted on twenty percent of Roethlisberger’s passes this season. His 374 yards receiving is the most by a Steelers’ receiver this season.

The Pittsburgh defense will have the task of stopping the run. Nick Chubb and the Cleveland offensive line have averaged 5.8 yards per carry this season. Keith Butler and the Steelers defense can expect Chubb to receive most of the reps at running back. Kareem Hunt has been placed on the injured reserve due to a calf injury. Health will also impact the Browns in their aerial attack. Baker Mayfield is making his return from a torn labrum injury.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a great position to make a playoff run. The Cincinnati Bengals are currently first place in the division. A win Halloween win in FirstEnergy Stadium could make the playoff picture spooky for the teams in the AFC North. All four teams in the AFC North have a winning record. Pittsburgh’s road to the AFC playoff picture involves beating divisional opponents. If the Steelers plan on participating this post-season, the journey starts with the Cleveland Browns.