The Cleveland Browns open the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. A lot of Browns fans have high hopes for this year, some even predicting a division crown. While I don’t believe that Cleveland is a better team than Pittsburgh, I do believe that Hue and the boys can catch the Steelers sleeping in the opener.
Ben Roethlisberger (rightfully) doesn’t respect the Browns and why should he? Big Ben has the same number of career losses to the Browns (2) as he has sexual assault cases against him. This year seems different though. The Browns defense has looked formidable and has stayed oddly healthy throughout the preseason. If Roesthlisberger comes out lackadaisical he could take some big hits early and often. Plus, with Jabrill Peppers starting every play 30 yards from the line of scrimmage, Antonio Brown shouldn’t have too many receptions longer than 25 or so yards. Le’Veon Bell came out slow after skipping training camp last year and I would assume we can expect to see that again this season. If Bell can’t get going and Roethlisberger gets a little too cocky, this young Browns defense should be able to hold its own.
The real question is, can the offense put up enough points to help out the defense or at least sustain drives to keep Williams’ unit off the field. The first team offense put together some nice drives throughout the first 3 preseason games. It didn’t always result in points but I chalk that up to Todd Haley wanting to try some new things. If Hyde and Chubb can produce like they did in game 2 and 3 that should take some pressure off of Tyrod and allow him to make a few plays. I’m not expecting him to light it up but just putting together a nice drive here or there and not turning the ball over might be enough to get a win.
My opinion is that week one is the best possible time to face the Steelers this season and I think the Browns will take advantage of the opportunity. I predict that the defense catches Big Ben off guard and the offense does just enough, Browns 20-16.