Game Predictions & Player Projections - CLE vs PIT

Game Predictions & Player Projections - CLE vs PIT


Game Predictions & Player Projections - CLE vs PIT


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Prediction: CLE 10, PIT 23 (Line: PIT by 6.5)

UPDATE: Lance Moore is out this week from his groin injury.

It has been five years since the Browns won in Pittsburgh and they’ve only won once in the last eight meetings. If this game ends this closely it should be considered a loss by the Steelers since they bring in the same team, scheme and coaches into the game against the visiting Browns with all new coaches, schemes and players.

The Browns lost 7-20 in Pittsburgh last year. Those Browns seemed better.

Cleveland Browns

1 @PIT —– 10 @CIN —–
2 NO —– 11 HOU —–
3 BAL —– 12 @ATL —–
4 BYE —– 13 @BUF —–
5 @TEN —– 14 IND —–
6 PIT —– 15 CIN —–
7 @JAC —– 16 @CAR —–
8 OAK —– 17 @BAL —–
9 TB —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
CLE @ PIT Rush Catch Pass
QB Robert Griffin III 10 250,2
QB Josh McCown 10 220,1
WR Brian Hartline 8-100,1
WR Andrew Hawkins 6-80

The new era begins for the Browns in what recently has been the annual purge of everybody and everything. Realtors must love the Browns. Mike Pettine comes over from the Bills where he was the defensive coordinator and he tabbed Kyle Shanahan to run the offense as he did in Washington where he was last run out of town in their own purge. There has been so much change, again, that it is hardly fair to establish any expectations with so much unknown.

Brian Hoyer takes the start despite the media’s insistence that Johnny Manziel was the only quarterback in Cleveland. Unfortunately, Hoyer will have to look over his shoulder every week at least until Manziel is allowed to play and doesn’t fare as well – if that happens. This is going to be a run-first team to be sure and the passing took a tremendous hit when Josh Gordon was suspended for the year.

The receivers were refreshed with Andrew Hawkins from the Cincy slot hoping to beat his career high 533 yards in a season. Miles Austin is the other starter and the ninth-year veteran not only brings his lengthy history of hamstring problems to town, he already missed time this summer because of them. His injury history wasn’t the only reason he left Dallas. Averaging only 10.2 yards per catch also worked to his detriment. The Browns are left with such a mishmash of mediocre receivers that almost anyone on the roster might surprise if only because they only are compared to other Browns receivers.

Jordan Cameron had his breakout season in 2013 under OC Norv Turner and rang up a season with 80-917-7. Granted it was mostly four monster games and them not much else but Cameron will again figure in prominently if only because of the lack of talent on the team. Shanahan has no history of relying heavily on the tight end position but talent is talent and Cameron seems to have a team high of it.

The Browns brought in Ben Tate from Houston and he’ll spend his fourth NFL season finally as a starting running back. Tate has never rushed more than 181 times in season and has a career 4.7 yard rushing average. He has also never been the man that defenses all focus on stopping. Terrance West was drafted to help out but was unimpressive in preseason. For the near future if not more, Tate is going to be the heavy-use back playing on a questionable offense and hoping that he can go an entire year without injury.

Week one will answer much about the Browns but maybe not the way the Browns were hoping.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The only two reasonable fantasy plays will be Jordan Cameron (every week) since he’s clearly the best receiving option and closest to the quarterback anyway. Tate deserves a start this week though the Steelers have historically been stout against the run. Their defense has taken several major hits in recent seasons and in 2013 they allowed 17 rushing touchdowns. The yardage still tended to be moderate but this is not the Steel Curtain we used to know. This game makes watching it worthwhile because there are just so many unknowns in play here.

Gaining Fantasy Points CLE 16 30 13 7 31 16
Preventing Fantasy Points PIT 8 17 11 12 17 12

Pittsburgh Steelers

1 CLE —– 10 @NYJ —–
2 @BAL —– 11 @TEN —–
3 @CAR —– 12 BYE —–
4 TB —– 13 NO —–
5 @JAC —– 14 @CIN —–
6 @CLE —– 15 @ATL —–
7 HOU —– 16 KC —–
8 IND —– 17 CIN —–
9 BAL —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
PIT vs CLE Rush Catch Pass
QB Ben Roethlisberger 220,1
RB Le’Veon Bell 90,1 2-20
RB DeAngelo Williams 60 2-10
WR Antonio Brown 5-60
WR Markus Wheaton 6-70,1
TE Ladarius Green 2-40
TE Heath Miller 4-40
PK Shaun Suisham 3 FG 2 XP

The same Steelers take to the field that ended 8-8 last year with very few exceptions. Perhaps most notable in fantasy terms would be the loss of Emmanuel Sanders who logged 67 catches for 740 yards and six scores along with Jerricho Cotchery (46-602-10). But Markus Wheaton was ready to step up and somehow bringing in Lance Moore was deemed sufficient. So maybe not quite the team that played in 2013.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for a career best 4261 yards last year with 28 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. Long been one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league, he’s improved and the Steelers are moving to more no-huddle offense this year which helps up the tempo and slow down the rush. Big Ben has never been more than a decent fantasy back-up and at the age of 32 there is no reason to expect that to change. Roethlisberger passed for 197 yards and one score when the Browns visited last year.

Antonio Brown should be in for big things again this year after his breakout season with 110-1499-8 last year. And that was with better wideouts playing. He’s become the best weapon that the Steelers have and last year never once fell below five receptions in a game. He’s an elite wideout now and at 26 has plenty of time left to play.

Antonio Brown snagged nine passes for 87 yards on the Browns last year. He managed 92 yards and a score in Cleveland as well.

Markus Wheaton is now the starting split end despite only catching six passes last year. That’s a risky proposition but one that the Steelers were comfortable with trying. Lance Moore will also contribute but the 31-year old only had one good season after nine years in New Orleans playing with one of the top passers in the last decade. It is a fair statement that defenses will focus heavily on Brown.

Heath Miller is back for his tenth season and his eight touchdown blip of a season in 2012 looks more like an aberration after last year. Miller should be healthy again and may see a slight uptick if Wheaton and Moore don’t come through.

Le’Veon Bell enjoyed a productive season as a rookie rushing for 860 yards and eight touchdowns on 244 carries and adding 399 yards on 45 catches in only 13 games. His only downside is that he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and the Steeler line still grades out as below average.

Jonathan Dwyer left and was replaced by LeGarrette Blount but he was arrested on marijuana possession along with Bell. It appears so far that the team is committed to giving them a stern talking to, Mister, and then they need to think about what they did. And then go play this weekend because the Steelers want to win. Bell rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on the visiting Browns in 2013.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: As bad as the Browns offense may be, the defense is good. In particular Joe Haden will match on Brown no matter where he goes and that will limit him. Brown had success against the them in 2013 but Sanders was more of a factor and the Browns did not commit Haden on him as they say they will now. The run game should handle it for the Steelers with Bell never gaining under 80 rush yards on them last year. Consider Bell a must start but the rest have risk – even Brown. He’s still worth using from his potential but he could be shut down.

Gaining Fantasy Points PIT 13 25 4 29 11 25
Preventing Fantasy Points CLE 18 19 10 15 18 24

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