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Cheat Sheet: Steelers vs. Browns

How to Watch/Listen

  • TV coverage: Broadcast locally in Pittsburgh on ABC (WTAE-TV) and nationally on ESPN.
  • Steelers Radio Network - Game coverage begins at 8:15 p.m. ET; Pregame programming begins at 4:15 p.m.; Postgame coverage starts immediately following the game.
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Injury Update

The Steelers have begun their preparation for Monday night's game against the Cleveland Browns at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

Check out the most updated Injury Report: Click here >>>

Series History

This series began in 1950 and Pittsburgh leads this series 76-60-1 after most recently beating the Browns 27-19 in Week 8. The Browns won the first eight meetings and 16 of the first 18 games these two teams ever played. In fact, of the first 41 games Cleveland and the Steelers played, the Browns won 32. But then the 1970s arrived and the tides drastically turned. There was a stretch from December of 1972 until October of 1983 that Pittsburgh was victorious in 18 of 22 games played. After that though, Cleveland won 10 of the next 12. During a 50-game period between January of 1994 to October of 2020, Pittsburgh had winning streaks of seven games, six games, 12 games, four games, four games, and an eight-game stretch in which the Browns were only able to muster up one tie, but no wins in that period. In those 50 games, Cleveland won just seven times and lost both playoff games. The Browns and Steelers have surprisingly only played three playoff games. Pittsburgh has won two of them, but of course, the Steelers lost the most recent matchup last year.

The Season so Far

  • Cleveland has lost two games in a row, but by a combined four points. They have lost three of their last four, but their point differential in those games is just -8. For the season, the Browns have a -15-point differential while Pittsburgh is now at -70 which is 10th worst in the NFL. The Browns have only won four of their past 11 games.
  • The Browns have only won two games on the road this year and Pittsburgh has only lost two at Heinz Field.
  • The Browns lost the turnover battle last week 4-0. That brings Cleveland to an even zero in turnover differential for the season. Pittsburgh is at -1. The Browns have failed on fourth downs 14 times this year while their opponents failed to convert on eight instances. Cleveland's opponents have only missed one field goal this year while the Browns have missed six. That brings the Browns advanced turnover differential to -11. The Steelers have failed on fourth downs two more times than their opponents and Pittsburgh has missed as many field goal attempts as their opponents in 2021, so the Steelers advanced turnover differential is -3.
  • The Browns average 5.1 yards per carry and allow just 4.1 yards per rushing attempt. They average 39 more rushing yards per game than their opponents this year. But when these teams met earlier this season, the Steelers out rushed Cleveland by 19 yards.
  • On average, Cleveland runs the football 28.3 times per game, which is ninth most in the league. The Steelers only run it 23.3 times per game. Only the Buccaneers, Jaguars, Seahawks, and Jets run is less often per game.
  • On average, when Ben Roethlisberger drops back to pass, the ball comes out in 2.39 seconds, which is the quickest in the league. As for Baker Mayfield, he lets it go 2.83 seconds into the play. Only nine quarterbacks with at least 250 passing attempts this year hold the ball longer than Mayfield.
  • In their last six games, Pittsburgh's first quarter point differential is -41. In that same timeframe, the Steelers scored just nine points in the first halves of play and allowed 114. The Steelers have scored 101 points this entire year in the first half of play. Only the Giants (97 points) have scored fewer points before halftime. 49.5% of Pittsburgh's points have been scored in the fourth quarter. That is the highest percentage in the league. Meanwhile, the Browns (21%) have the smallest percentage of fourth quarter points scored.
  • Pittsburgh's average drive produces 29.7 yards. The Browns average 33.5 yards every time they get the football.
  • These two teams are right about at league average with their average starting field position. Pittsburgh's typical drive starts at their 28.5-yard line. Cleveland's starts at their 28.4-yard line.
  • Only the Dolphins average more sacks per game than Pittsburgh. The Browns 2.5 sacks per game is better than every defense except for nine. The Steelers offense gives up 2.3 sacks per game and Cleveland allows 2.6. When these teams last met, Pittsburgh recorded four sacks compared to just two by the Browns. The Browns didn't record a sack last week.
  • The Steelers snap the ball 63.9 times per game compared to 61.4 for Cleveland. That ranks 12th and 27th in the NFL respectively. The Browns opponents run 65.2 plays per game. Only five teams see more offensive snaps per game than Cleveland.
  • The Browns rookies played 132 snaps last week. The Steelers rookies played 235 snaps in Kansas City.

When Pittsburgh has the Ball

  • Diontae Johnson was targeted 13 times earlier this year against Cleveland. He caught six of those for 98 yards. Only four wide receivers have been targeted more than Johnson. Last week, Davante Adams racked up 10 catches on his 13 targets last week for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Adams generated 3.35 yards per route run, a massive number.
  • On average, Johnson is targeted 9.1 yards downfield and Chase Claypool is at 12.5 yards past the line of scrimmage. Johnson and Claypool have also both gotten 24% of the end zone targets for the season.
  • Claypool ran a route last week on 75% of the Steelers pass plays. That is his highest percentage in the past four weeks.
  • Johnson averages 2.06 yards for every route he runs. Claypool is slightly behind him at 1.93. Amongst wide receivers with at least 100 targets this year, only eight players are better than Johnson in this very telling statistic. Cooper Kupp is the best in football at 3.13 and he and Deebo Samuel are the only two over 3.0 yards per route run.
  • With Pat Freiermuth out of the lineup, Zach Gentry ran a route on 58% of Pittsburgh's pass plays in Kansas City. However, the week before that number was at 57%. Both of which are up from his normal throughout the year. For some perspective, Gentry ran a route on just 12% of the passing snaps in Week 14.
  • Myles Garrett has 15 of the Browns 37 sacks this year. No one else has more than five.
  • In terms of snap counts last week in Green Bay, Garrett and Sheldon Day led the way amongst Cleveland's defensive linemen. But after those two, no one else played even 40 snaps with Porter Gustin on the field for 39, Malik Jackson for 35, Tommy Togiai for 25, and Ifeadi Odenigbo, Joe Jackson, and Josiah Brown all playing between 7 and 16 snaps.
  • In the red zone, Pittsburgh is scoring a touchdown 56.8% of the time. That ranks 20th in the NFL. But the Browns red zone defense (68.1%) is only better than the Raiders, Lions, Packers, and Colts.

When Cleveland has the Ball

  • Over their last 10 games, the Browns are averaging just 16.1 points per game, which includes a 41-point outburst against Cincinnati. Cleveland has only eclipsed 22 points in a game five times this year and have scored 14 points or less on seven occasions.
  • Last week in Green Bay, Mayfield threw nine passes 10 yards or deeper downfield. He completed just two of them for 21 yards and threw three interceptions. In whole, Mayfield threw four interceptions last week and was sacked five times.
  • The Browns have only thrown 17 touchdown passes this year. Only five teams have thrown fewer. They are also only throwing for 200.7 yards per game, which also is sixth worst in the league.
  • Mayfield has played the Steelers six times and has never eclipsed 225 passing yards against Pittsburgh. Mayfield hit 225 yards exactly when these teams met earlier this season.
  • In his last two games, Mayfield's yards per attempt has been 6.2 and 5.9. For the season, Mayfield averages 7.4 yards every time he releases the football. Over his past five games, Mayfield averages just 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
  • On the back of their running game, Cleveland averaged 6.2 yards per play last week and accumulated 408 yards of offense with 219 of those coming on the ground. Nick Chubb finished the day with 184 yards from scrimmage, 58 of those yards coming as a receiver. Both are his best outputs of the season.
  • Over the last three weeks, Chubb is averaging 21.3 touches per game and is playing 65% of Cleveland's offensive snaps. Chubb has gotten at least 20 touches in four of his five games since returning from injury.
  • 17.2% of the Browns rushing attempts have gained 10 yards or more. That is the highest percentage in the league.
  • Just two teams average more than the 144.9 rushing yards per game that Cleveland is producing this year.
  • When the Browns are trailing on the scoreboard by four or more points, they run the ball 7% more than league average, which is the second most in the league in that situation. When they are in a game that is within three points in either direction, they run 4% more than league average. That is the ninth most.
  • Donovan Peoples-Jones leads the Browns in receiving yards, but only has 483 yards through the air in 2021. Cleveland has three pass catchers with between 436 and 483 receiving yards. Three different Browns pass catchers have three receiving touchdowns, which leads the team.
  • Peoples Jones played 59 of a possible 68 offensive snaps last week. Jarvis Landry saw the field for 54 plays and Rashard Higgins played 44 snaps. Landry and Peoples-Jones each ran a route on 89% of the dropbacks in that game. Since Odell Beckham was traded, Landry is getting 24.1% of the targets in the games he has been healthy for but has only produced over 55 yards once in that stretch.
  • For the season, Landry's average depth of target is at just 8.5 yards downfield. Peoples-Jones is obviously the deep threat with an ADOT of 16.6 while Higgins splits the difference at 12.5. In terms of yards per route run, Landry is at 1.72, Peoples-Jones comes in at 1.42, and Higgins sits at .99.
  • At tight end, David Njoku and Austin Hooper played 39 and 37 snaps respectively last week.
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick has 26 tackles over the last two weeks.
  • The Browns offense operates out of 11 Personnel just 44% of the time. League average is 60%. Where Cleveland makes up for it is with their usage of 21 and 13 Personnel. The Browns have two running backs, one tight end and two wide receivers on the field 12% of the time, which is 5% more than league average. The Browns utilize 13 Personnel 17% of the time. League average for 13 Personnel usage is just 4%.
  • Pittsburgh's 43 sacks are third-most in the NFL. For the season, Pittsburgh is blitzing 28.5% of the time, which is the eighth most in the league. Just five teams have given up more sacks than the Browns.
  • The Steelers red zone defense allows a touchdown just 50.9% of the time, which is sixth-best in the NFL, but Cleveland's offense scores a touchdown on 61.4% of their red zone trips, which ranks ninth.

Special Teams

  • Chris Boswell has made 87.9% of his field goal attempts in 2021. Meanwhile, the Browns collectively have only made 72.7% of their attempts. Only two teams are worse than the Browns kicking field goals this year.
  • After 15 games, here are the Steelers snap leaders on special teams: Derek Watt 289, Ulysees Gilbert, Miles Killebrew, and Benny Snell 288, Marcus Allen 244, but Allen did miss one game, and Robert Spillane at 219 special teams snaps, but Spillane has only been available for 12 games this season. The other two players over 200 special teams snaps are Justin Layne and James Pierre at 204 and 203 respectively.

The Advanced Scout Podcast

Check out Matt's podcast preview on the Browns: Listen Here >>>

Matt's Most Memorable Moment: January 10, 2021: Wild Card Game: Browns 48, Steelers 37, Heinz Field

Not to bring up bad memories for Steelers fans, but let's go back about one year ago and rehash the last time the Browns came to Pittsburgh. This one of course didn't go as the Steelers would have liked it started in tragic fashion when Maurkice Pouncey snapped the ball over Ben Roethlisberger's head which put the Steelers behind the eight ball from the start. Cleveland took a 35-10 lead into halftime. But Pittsburgh outscored the Browns 27-13 in the second half. Roethlisberger threw for 501 yards in that game, but the Steelers came up just short. The irony of this game is if the Steelers won in Week 17 in Cleveland, a game in which Pittsburgh rested many key starters and still only lost 24-22, the Browns don't get in the playoffs to begin with. The following Sunday, the Browns traveled to Kansas City and lost a close game to the Chiefs.

Facts from NFL Research

  • Ben Roethlisberger has 163 career QB wins, the 5th-most in NFL history.
  • The most wins by any QB to spend their entire career with 1 team.
  • The Steelers 8% sack rate this season trails only the Bears 8.6%,
  • Najee Harris leads all rookies in scrimmage yards and rushing yards and leads all rookie running backs in reviving yards and scrimmage touchdowns.
  • Harris can become the 5th player in NFL History with 1,000+ rushing yards and 500+ receiving yards in their rookie season; he needs 71 rushing yards and 78 receiving yards,

Key Matchups

  • Browns RB Nick Chubb vs. Steelers LB Devin Bush- Assuming Bush is back in action for this game, he will have his hands full with a truly elite ball carrier in Chubb. Slowing down the Browns run game very well could be the difference in this game when it is all said and done. Bush won't be alone in trying to get that done, but a big game from him would sure go a long way. Also, the Browns love using two and three tight end sets and Bush will be challenged in coverage by Cleveland's tight end group as well as Kareem Hunt, an excellent receiving back that possibly could be back in action on Sunday. Jedrick Wills and JC Tretter are also expected back in the lineup for the Browns this week.
  • Steelers LT Dan Moore vs. Browns DE Myles Garrett- Garrett is a wrecking machine and could end up winning the Defensive MVP award. He causes every offense he faces massive problems, but Garrett is also dealing with a groin injury that could compromise his movement skills. Usually Garrett will come from Ben Roethlisberger's blind side against Moore, but the Steelers would be wise to implement a very high percentage of 12 Personnel (1 RB/2 TE) in this game and use Zach Gentry and/or Najee Harris to help chip or double team Garrett on pass plays.