How the Browns defense matches up against the Steelers offense

Cleveland’s defense will look to stop big plays and the run on Sunday

Linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. (5) during a NFL football game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football on September 18, 2023 at Acrisure Stadium. The Browns lost 22-26.

When the Browns took on the Steelers in Week 2, the defense almost had a great game; however, a few key miscues led to 10 points for the Steelers. The Browns lost the game 26-22.

This Sunday, for their second matchup of this season, the Browns defense will look to dominate from start to finish. They are ready to go against a Steelers offense that ranks below average in all passing categories this season.

"Well, if you just look at their offensive stats, it's not eye-popping, but you look at their win total," DC Jim Schwartz said. "I think I've been on the record of saying how we're doing is always 5-3, 6-3. That's how we do. And I think Pittsburgh lives that a little bit."

The Steelers offense is currently averaging 283 total yards per game, which is 28th in the league. They also average 17.3 points per game, ranking them 26th in the league. Additionally, quarterback Kenny Pickett is currently ranked 28th in the league in total quarterback passer rating. They are 30th in receiving touchdowns with seven and 31st in receiving yards with 1,772.

Despite their passing offensive struggles, they have found a way to a 6-3 record by not turning the ball over. The Steelers have eight total turnovers this season, which ranks second-best in the NFL.

Their run game has slightly been better than their pass game this season. Even though the Steelers rank 21st in rushing yards they have recorded seven runs of over 20 yards, which is tied for sixth place in the league. Moreover, they rank eighth in the league in converting with a run on third down, with a success rate of 25.2 percent.

"Our main thing is to stop the run when playing the Steelers," LB Anthony Walker Jr. said. "We always have to match their physicality. In the last game we did a good job at it. If we stop the run, we should be in good shape. I trust our defensive backs in the back end to play well in the pass game."

Even though the Steelers passing offense this season has been below average when they play the Browns, they have found ways to make big plays. In Week 2, that play was a 71-yard touchdown reception by WR George Pickens in the second quarter. Then it was a 25-yard reception by Pickens to start the third quarter off, which led to a made field goal.

In three games played against the Browns in his career, Pickens has caught 10 receptions for 238 yards and scored two touchdowns. He averages 23 yards per catch against the Browns.

"George does a great job at the 50-50 balls," CB Greg Newsome II said. "We definitely have to watch out for that and win those battles. But we never gameplan to stop a receiver. We have to play our game, and good things will happen."

In their first meeting this season, Pickens caught four passes for 127 yards and scored a touchdown. He was the only effective weapon on the Steelers that night. If the Browns can take away Pickens big plays, they should have a dominant performance Sunday against the Steelers.