Steelers vs. Browns: 5 things to know about Pittsburgh's Week 2 matchup

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
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Steelers defense must slow down the Browns’ running game

While Pittsburgh struggled offensively against San Francisco (last season’s top-ranked defense), Cleveland didn’t exactly use a high-octane attack to record their 21-point win over the defending AFC North Champion Bengals last week.

Playing in a rainstorm throughout, the Browns were just 4-of-14 (28.6%) on third downs and the two teams combined for 17 punts. Deshaun Watson finished just 16-of-29 for 154 yards, one touchdown, and one interception through the air, with running back Nick Chubb leading all Browns’ receivers with four catches.

“Mr. Chubb”, as Tomlin called him in Tuesday’s weekly press conference, has the ability to take control of a game though. He had 18 carries for 106 yards and as a team, the Browns rushed 40 times for 206 yards and a score.

Overall, Cleveland ran up 350 yards of total offense on Cincinnati, which contributed to a big win in time of possession (35:50 to 24:10) for the Browns. Time of possession was a huge problem for the Steelers in their loss to the 49ers, as the visitors rushed 34 times for 188 yards and dominated with a 37:23 TOP compared to the home team’s 22:37.

The Steelers defense will be minus DT Cam Heyward for a while, so you can bet the Browns will run right at that position, testing whoever replaces him. Those candidates include Isaiahh Loudermilk, DeMarvin Leal, and possibly even practice squad addition Armon Watts or rookie nose tackle Keeanu Benton. 

Benton had a good first game at nose tackle for a rookie and could slide over into Heyward’s spot. That would open the door for the elevation of practice squad nose tackle Breiden Fehoko to backup Montravius Adams. 

It would be interesting to see if Fehoko can play the Casey Hampton-type role in this game, taking on double-teams and freeing up inside linebackers Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb to make a play.

Pittsburgh does have one likely advantage on the defensive front as edge rusher T.J. Watt could be lined up against Cleveland’s rookie right tackle Dawand Jones. Jones was forced into action after starter Jack Conklin was lost for the season due to an injury against the Bengals. The Browns also reportedly signed free agent Ty Nsekhe to the active roster as well.