Game Day Preview: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Brett Keisel
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) is introduced before the start of an NFL preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. It was Keisel’s first game this pre-season, since re-signing with the Steelers. The Panthers won 10-0. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar)

The Steelers enter the 2014 season coming off of two consecutive 8-8 seasons. While last year the Steelers nearly slipped into the playoffs after finishing the season strong; the black and gold don’t want to put themselves in a position where they need to rely on other teams to help them in. The 0-4 start they had to last season clearly dug a hole too big to get out of.
To open this season, they take on the in division rival Browns. The Browns should be improved and have an entire new coaching staff to help rebuild the once proud franchise. They drafted Johnny Manziel and expect big things out of him down the line. They’ll certainly miss Josh Gordon this season and in the end this is a team the Steelers should and need to beat if they want to consider themselves a threat to win the division.
Here are the Keys to A Steelers Victory:
1. The black and gold need to come out strong. They need to avoid early mistakes like turnovers and penalties and move the ball down the field effectively, utilizing the no huddle offense that Big Ben loves so much.
2. Even with the no huddle offense, they need to run a balanced attack. LeVeon Bell and to a lesser degree LaGarrete Blount need to put up the yardage needed to control the clock and keep the defense honest.  Bell should go for at least 100 yards in order for the ground attack to be effective enough.
3. The defense needs to rattle Brian Hoyer. Hoyer will already be looking over his shoulder at Johnny Football and will be prone to making mistakes because he’ll be trying so hard not to make one. The defense needs to pound Hoyer into the ground and deflate his confidence early and often.
4. They can’t let the Browns hang around. The worst thing the team can do is let a mediocre Browns team hang around and keep their confidence. If the Steelers can get up big early, they should be able to coast to an easy win.
Here are a Few Things to Watch:
1.Ryan Shazier-Shazier will be on the third linebacker in Steeler history to start a season opener as a rookie, joining Jack Lambert and Kendrell Bell. Shazier, the teams number one draft pick in May, appears to be the real deal. Look for him to make big plays in clutch situations.
2. Markus Wheaton-Wheaton enters his second season as the number two starting receiver.  Wheaton only netted six catches in his rookie year but the team expects big things out of him in year two. It will be interesting to see if he’s up for the challenge or if he’ll let Lance Moore or even Martavis Bryant pass him up.
3. Dri Archer-Archer is another rookie who may be a big impact guy. He’ll see a lot of action out of the slot and as a third down back. He has the potential to be a special teams ace and is a true burner. Speed kills and he’s got a lot of it.
4. Big Ben-He’s the leader of this team, the heart and soul. He is not going to want to start the season off like they did last year and he’s going to be instrumental in the development and growth of all the young talent on the offensive side of the ball. Watch how much of a leader he’s become.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at mike@steelnationassociation.com.

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