Browns vs. Steelers: NFL Wild Card odds, preview, and pick
The Pittsburgh Steelers will host a familiar foe in the AFC Wild Card round, as the Cleveland Browns will head to the Steel City for their first playoff game since the 2002 season.
The Browns reached 11 wins for the first time since the 1994 season and won six of their last eight games. The Steelers finished 12-4 and won yet another NFC North title, but they finished the season with four losses in their final five games.
Here is our preview of the AFC Wild Card matchup between the Browns and Steelers.
Mon, January 11 2021, 1:15 AM
Nick Chubb can be Derrick Henry for Browns
The lack of playoff experience will be a major hurdle for the Browns, but the Tennessee Titans had little playoff experience, and they managed to advance from the Wild Card round the AFC Championship Game, behind running back Derrick Henry and a strong defense. The Browns can do the same behind Nick Chubb.
Chubb does not get the respect he deserves. He should be mentioned in the same company as Henry, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara.
Chubb only had 1,067 rushing yards in the regular season, but he averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 103.5 yards in games he received 15 or more carries. Henry averaged 5.4 yards per carry and 126.7 yards per game, Cook averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 111.2 yards per game, and Kamara averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 108.7 yards in games with 15 or more carries.
The Browns went 7-1 in games where Chubb received 15 or more carries. They also went 6-0 in games where Chubb went past 100 rushing yards.
The game plan should be clear — get Chubb the ball early and often and control the game flow.
Which Steelers will show up?
The Steelers started the season 11-0, with a mix of high-scoring offense and aggressive defense. However, the offense fell apart in the final five games and it only averaged 19.8 points per game during the 1-4 stretch to end the season.
The Steelers did not play a playoff team until Week 6 and went 4-3 against teams in the playoffs. They went 1-1 against the Browns.
The Steelers will need to establish a run game to help quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against a tough Cleveland pass rush.
Pittsburgh ranked last in the NFL, with 84.4 rushing yards per game. Chubb averages more than that on his own. Injuries to James Conner certainly made a difference, but he still only averaged 4.3 yards per carry this season.
Who will win Sunday Night AFC Wild Card matchup?
Big Ben owns Cleveland
Roethlisberger has an astounding 24-2-1 record against the Browns, and he has never lost to the Browns at home. Earlier this year, the Steelers defeated the Browns, 38-7, in Pittsburgh.
*taps mic*— The Fan Morning Show (@FanMorningShow) January 4, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger is 12-0 against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in his career.
Cleveland is very good at rushing the paser, but the Pittsburgh pass rush is the best in the league. It led the league, with 56 sacks on the season, which allowed the secondary to lead the league with 18 interceptions.
The Browns can counteract the pass rush with Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the ground game, but I believe Roethlisberger will not allow the Steelers to lose. He will make the plays necessary to win a close game, thanks to some turnovers forced by the Pittsburgh defense.