As the 2013 season closes on the Cleveland Browns, there is much to discuss in the off season yet again. The orange-and-brown play their final game of the year against the dreaded Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. With a huge win over the Green Bay Packers last week, the Steelers find themselves “In The Hunt” for the NFL postseason (a lot must happen though), despite an 0-4 start. Here is what it will take to knock the Steelers right out of playoff hopes.
Dawg Bone #1
Stop with the Turnovers
No NFL team should have any shot at winning a football game when they turn the ball over four times. And, that’s exactly what Cleveland did in week 12 at First Energy Stadium. The Browns were embarrassed on their home field 27-11. During their six-game losing streak, the Browns have turned the ball over 15 times. This is unacceptable and ridiculous! It’s no wonder they have won just one contest out of their last ten. If the Browns are going to have any shot at all in upsetting the Steelers at Heinz Field, they must not turn the ball over to Ben Roethlisberger. The Browns will be lucky if they can just turn the ball over once.
Dawg Bone #2
Eat up the Clock
In their first meeting, Roethlisberger and the Steelers didn’t do anything special. In fact, Roethlisberger only threw for 217 yards and the Steelers offense had only 302 yards total. The Steelers were not efficient on third down either. But, when they needed to keep a drive going and make a play, they did and the Browns didn’t. By the game’s end, the Steelers had the ball over seven minutes more than the Browns. Cleveland must eat the clock up as much as they can and shorten this game in a tough environment.
Dawg Bone #3
Run the Football!
Over the past six games, the Browns have had an average of 4.45 yards per rushing attempt. For a team that has absolutely no running game, that isn’t too terrible. The problem with Cleveland is their quick nature to stop running the ball. The Browns have become a pass first team because they have absolutely no feature back to carry the ball 20-25 games. That will change in the upcoming draft, but for now why see what you have in the backs that are on the roster. In two games, Edwin Baker has shown burst, no hesitation, scored twice, and has had great hands out of the backfield. On 25 carries for 102 yards, Baker is averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Baker also has six receptions and a 9.7 yard per reception average. Despite Chris Ogbonnaya actually having a chance at making the Pro Bowl at the fullback position, the Ogbonnaya-fullback experience should’ve been over once Trent Richardson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts.
While Ogbonnaya has fumbled this season, he is averaging almost five yards per carry and is third on the team in receptions with 47. He has more receptions than Greg Little! The irony is that 32-year-old feature back Willis McGahee is averaging less yards per carry (2.7) than Richardson was before the trade. Ogbonnaya should have been handed the job earlier this season.
If the Browns can run the ball against a Steelers defense giving up almost 4.5 yards per carry and speed up the clock, this could be an upset. On paper and numbers-wise, these two teams match up very similar.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook: Ryan (BrownsWriter) Ruiz and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Browns correspondent for The Sportsfix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportsfix.net. Have a question or comment for the “ASK Ryan” column on Fridays? Email Ryan at [email protected]