North rival in back-to-back weeks as the Steelers will come to Cleveland on Sunday. This is the second meeting this season between the rival teams, as the Steelers beat the Browns in Week 2 26-22 in Pittsburgh.
So, let's take a look at three of the biggest keys to Sunday's game.
As a defense, the Browns do not try and force takeaways. They know they come in bunches and look for those opportunities to create takeaways in a game. However, their ability to create turnovers against the Steelers could play a critical factor in Sunday's game.
The Steelers are tied for second in the league in giveaways this season with eight turnovers – six interceptions and two fumbles. On the flipside, their defense has created 18 takeaways – 12 interceptions and six fumbles. Their turnover differential is a plus-10, which is tied for the best in the league with the Bengals.
When the Browns faced the Steelers in Week 2, their defense had two takeaways on an interception by S Grant Delpit, and a forced fumble by CB Denzel Ward that was then recovered by Delpit.
"The stat that pops out the most about them is their turnovers," DC Jim Schwartz said. "They don't turn the ball over. Now, we got two in the first game, but their defense got three, four, whatever it was, and they're one of the best teams in the NFL at turnover margin. And we all know what an indicator for winning games is. And that's our big challenge, is taking the ball away from those guys because they do a good job of taking care of the ball, and that puts them in the win column more often than not."
Stop the Steelers' improved run game
The Steelers' run game has seen improvements over the course of the season, and the Browns have to take into account how they run the ball. Linebackers coach Jason Tarver knows they have a challenge in stopping the Steelers run game. Tarver said in their fast few games, the Steelers established the tempo and used their guys in the backfield in RB Najee Harris and RB Jaylen Warren to their advantage.
In their win over the Packers in Week 10, the Steelers rushed for 205 yards on 36 attempts. Warren rushed for 101 of those 205 yards on 15 carries and scored one touchdown. Harris rushed for 82 yards on 16 carries for one touchdown.
"And so, what we got to make sure we do is get whatever eleven defenders were on the ball around these guys – whichever one they have, however they get them the ball," Tarver said. "So, I think they're getting better. And it's our challenge to make sure that we stay in our identity and do what we just said, which is stay in each play and be able to deal with the different schemes that they have."
Contain the duo of LB T.J. Watt and LB Alex Highsmith
The Browns offensive front has a tough task on Sunday in limiting T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. In Week 2 against the Browns, Highsmith picked off QB Deshaun Watson on the first play of the game and returned the ball 30 yards for the touchdown. Watt sacked Watson for a loss of seven yards and recovered a fumble that he returned 16 yards for a touchdown.
The linebacker duo has presented problems all season for opposing offenses. This season, Watt has 10.5 sacks, 22 solo tackles and one interception. Highsmith has 4.5 sacks, 18 solo tackles and one interception as well this season.
"The edges are tops in the league and that's a point of 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."