Round II: Browns seek first W in Pittsburgh since 2003

A win would tie longest win streak in expansion era, give Cleveland first sweep since '88

Daryl Ruiter
November 30, 2019 - 6:02 pm

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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Cleveland, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Ding, ding!

The Browns travel to Pittsburgh for Round II against the Steelers Sunday afternoon.

Less than three weeks ago Cleveland ended an eight-game winless drought in what has become a one-sided rivalry and Sunday afternoon they’ll try to end a 15-game losing streak at Heinz Field and sweep the Steelers for the first time since 1988.

A win would also match the longest win streak in the expansion era – four.

A loss by either team essentially ends their season and playoff hopes making this the most significant regular season game played between the franchises since 1994.

Only one of the primary combatants from the Nov. 14 melee will be on the field Sunday – Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who returns after sitting out last week.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett lost his appeal and remains indefinitely suspended for the yet of the year. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey will serve the second game of his reduced ban. Mason Rudolph, who antagonized Garrett by tugging at his helmet on the ground and then charged Garrett after Garrett ripped his helmet off in retaliation prompting Garrett to hit him in the head with it, was benched by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

What to watch for – With over $1.3 million in fines handed out by the NFL following the first meeting between the teams, the league does not want a repeat which means the game could be called tight by the officials to prevent any extracurricular problems. Fans expecting things to get chippy on the field may be sorely disappointed.

Baker Mayfield has turned his season around by throwing just one interception over the last four games after throwing league-leading 12 in the first seven of the year. He’s also raised his completion percentage from 57.64 percent in the first seven to 64.38 over the last four, including eight touchdown passes to give him 14 TDs against 13 interceptions on the year.

Receiver Jarvis Landry looks to extends his touchdown catch streak to five straight games.

With rain in the forecast running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt take center stage. Chubb ranks second in the league with 1,117 yards and he is averaging 101.5 yards on the ground per game this season. Chubb has at least 75 scrimmage yards in 11 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the league. Hunt is averaging 4.4 yards per carry but has done his most damage in the pass game with 15 catches for 99 yards in 3 games.

With Browns left tackle Greg Robinson downgraded to out Sunday with a concussion, Justin McCray appears to be the favorite to replace him in the starting lineup. McCray started in Robinson’s place after the veteran was benched prior to a 27-13 loss to the Patriots in New England on Oct. 27.

Safety Damarious Randall was left home and did not travel Saturday to Pittsburgh meaning the Browns will be very shorthanded in the defensive backfield. Rookies Sheldrick Redwine and J.T. Hassle along with veteran corners Terrance Mitchell and Tavierre Thomas could be called upon to fill the void.

The Steelers won’t have their top receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was ruled out Friday and running back James Conner is listed as doubtful.

Rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges starts in place of Rudolph and the Browns’ defense will be wary of Hodges feet and ability to extend the play. Hodges threw for 115 yards and a touchdown after replacing Rudolph in the second half last week at Cincinnati. Hodges won his lone previous start, throwing for 132 yards and score in a win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 13.

Pittsburgh’s defense has kept them afloat this season. They are ranked second in turnovers (28), third in sacks (38) but had just one sack and no takeaways the last time these two met.

Last week – Browns beat the Dolphins 41-24; Steelers beat the Bengals 16-10

Last Time – Nov. 14, 2019: Browns 21, Steelers 7    

Series – Steelers lead 73-59-1 overall and 34-7-1 in the expansion era

Rankings – Points scored: Browns 20 (21.2), Steelers 25 (19.0)

Yards: Browns 15 (354.2), Steelers 28 (288.5)

Rushing: Browns 10 (124.2), Steelers 25 (87.9)

Passing: Browns 17, (230.0), Steelers 27 (200.6)

Points allowed: Browns 18 (22.9), Steelers 8 (19.3)

Yards allowed: Browns 14 (338.5), Steelers 7 (320.6)

Rushing yards allowed: Browns 25 (124.0), Steelers 11 (103.5)

Passing yards allowed: Browns 7 (214.5), Steelers 8 (217.2)

Turnover ratio: Browns 23 (-3), Steelers 2 (+10)

Probable Starters – Offense: WR Odell Beckham Jr., TE Pharaoh Brown, LT Justin McCray, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Eric Kush, RT Chris Hubbard, QB Baker Mayfield, WR Jarvis Landry, RB Kareem Hunt, RB Nick Chubb

Defense: DE Chad Thomas, DT Larry Ogunjobi, DT Sheldon Richardson, DE Chris Smith, WILL Mack Wilson, MIKE Joe Schobert, CB Denzel Ward, CB Greedy Williams, CB TJ Carrie, FS Juston Burris, SS Sheldrick Redwine

Injury report – OUT: S Eric Murray (knee), LT Greg Robinson (concussion), S Damarious Randall (coach’s decision)

QUESTIONABLE: WR KhaDarel Hodge (Achilles), DE Olivier Vernon (knee)

EXPPECTED TO PLAY: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (groin), LB Joe Schobert (groin), TE Demetrius Harris (neck), RB Dontrell Hilliard (knee), WR Jarvis Landry (hip)

Uniforms – White jerseys, white pants

Broadcast – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network. TV: WOIO TV-19

Kickoff – 1:03 p.m. – Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania   

Our prediction – Browns 23, Steelers 13

Our prediction record – 6-5