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Burning Questions

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Burning Questions for the Browns ahead of Week 11 matchup vs. the Steelers

In Week 2 against the Browns, the Steelers defense scored 14 points off turnovers


Sunday's matchup against the Steelers will be a physical game as both teams are fighting to win the AFC North. The Steelers and the Browns are both 6-3 entering Week 11. 

This will be the second matchup between the two rivals this season. The Steelers won the first game 26-22 in Week 2. The Browns will look to correct their mistakes in Week 11 at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Here are three questions the Browns must answer to win on Sunday.

Will the Browns run the ball more on Sunday?

Due to QB Deshaun Watson's season-ending shoulder injury, the Browns will be starting rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback this week. This is familiar territory for the Browns as they started Thompson-Robinson in Week 4 against the Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Thompson-Robinson struggled in Week 4 as he threw three interceptions. The Browns lost 28-3, and Thompson-Robinson hasn't started since.

The Browns, traditionally a run-first team, only had their running backs rush 19 times. It was a season-low for attempts from the group. In order to make Thompson-Robinson more comfortable, the Browns will need to rely on their run game to set up the play action later against the Steelers.

The Steelers have great linebackers, just like the Ravens had, that can make life miserable for a young quarterback. The Browns could look to establish a run game early, then make easy passes from the play action later.

"The edges are tops in the league and that's a point emphasis for us," OC Alex Van Pelt said. "We can't let those edge guys have an effect on the game, which they do so many times. So key coaching points for us throughout the week is to make sure that whatever it is we're doing in the run game, the pass game, the quarterback's depth in the pocket, everything needs to be within consideration of how good those edge rushers are."

Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Will the Browns limit their miscues?

It's hard to ask any defense not to have any missed assignments, but the Browns feel like it's mandatory to be great on every down.

"To be honest, our mentality has always been to be great, but now we know what we have to do, which is make sure we are our best self every play," CB Martin Emerson Jr. said. "If we don't give up points, we win. If we score on defense, we win. It's a tough task to ask for any defense, but I feel like it's possible with the guys we have in the locker room."

The defense feels like they have the personnel to shut out teams and hold them to single-digit scoring.

Yet, in their Week 2 meeting against the Steelers, the defense had too many miscues that led to points. The first play came in the second quarter and resulted in a 71-yard touchdown reception by WR George Pickens for the Steelers. The second play came at the start of the third quarter on third-and-10. QB Kenny Pickett again connected with Pickens for a 25-yard pass, which later resulted in a made field goal for the Steelers.

During the game, the Steelers scored 10 points on those big plays, but the Browns shut down their offense for most of the night. The Steelers only managed 55 rushing yards, while the Browns forced both a fumble and an interception.

"Last game, they got that one, but we felt like we gave it away," DT Dalvin Tomlinson said. "That game was physical. But we got another chance to rewrite our wrongs. I can't wait to get out there and play Sunday."

Will the Browns turn the ball over?

The Browns have thrown nine interceptions in Watson's absence, making them a turnover machine. However, in the Week 2 Monday night matchup, Watson played and committed two turnovers.

Those turnovers lead to 14 points for the Steelers. On the game's very first play, Watson threw a pick-six to LB Alex Highsmith, who returned it for a 30-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Watson was strip-sacked by Highsmith, and LB T.J. Watt returned for a 16-yard touchdown.

Simply put, the Browns can't turn the ball over against the Steelers in Week 11. They have to protect the football at all costs. Now, with Thompson-Robinson in the lineup instead of Watson, the emphasis on protecting the football this Sunday should be high.

"The biggest thing they said is we're going to coach you hard on your feet," Thompson-Robinson said. "We're going to coach you hard on your progressions, going to coach you hard on your run checks. If you just follow your rules, you'll be alright. We'll win this game. I'm not going to go out there and think about throwing picks, or fumbles or anything like that."

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