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Browns-Steelers game preview


1)     *Will Mike Pettine's personality translate to the Cleveland Browns?*

The word toughness is broad term, often used as a filler word for football writers. But not here in Cleveland. Since the moment Mike Pettine walked through the doors in Berea, his intensity set the tone in the entire building. There might be a few teams with more Pro Bowlers than the Browns, but Pettine's plan is that no team will be tougher – mentally and physically.

Pettine has openly put pressure on his players through all phases of the offseason; grueling voluntary workouts that reminded Browns players of their college days, intense position battles in training camp and the head coach even played the starters more than most NFL teams. Now, the time has come to see how this change in mentality translates to the football field. Expect unrelentless, organized chaos on defense and wise decision making on offense.

2)     *How will Brian Hoyer play?*

Sunday at 1 p.m. is Brian Hoyer's moment. The rest of the NFL will be watching with intrigue to see how well the 28-year-old will guide the Browns' offense. We've mentioned a few times that Hoyer has a much better arm than experts give him credit for. While he needs to let the game come to him, Hoyer should also trust his playmaking ability when the right opportunity arises.

3)     *Can the Browns defense limit the big play?*

In the preseason, the Redskins and Rams were each able to connect on multiple pass attempts of 30 yards or more. Cleveland showed they can be a bend but don't break defense (especially with the four-down goal line stand in Washington), but the Browns don't want to get in the habit of having their backs pinned up against the wall. Flustering Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be the key to keeping the Pittsburgh offense watching from the sidelines.

4)     *How many rushing yards will Ben Tate have?*

It's been noted that the Steelers were 1-7 in 2013 when they allowed a running back to go for 80 yards or more. Both Cleveland and Pittsburgh know this. Maybe the Pittsburgh defense isn't the same one that made the Super Bowl a few years back, but the scheme still exists. Tate isn't known as a home run hitting back, but he's built a reputation for being able to move the chains. Expect a stiff battle in the trenches right from the opening whistle.  

5)     *Which Browns wide receiver will step up?*

Our guess? Travis Benjamin. He'll likely see significant time as an outside receiver. The Steelers secondary isn't exactly their strong suit, either. If Tate is having success in the ground game, a deep play-action pass to Benjamin down the sideline could be a play that could change the game.

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