The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in what is arguably the best matchup in Week 6.
The Steelers are 4-0 for the first time since 1979, when the team went on to win Super Bowl XIV.
The Browns are riding a 4 game winning streak and are 4-1 for the first time since 1994.
However, the Browns are riding a 16-game losing streak in Pittsburgh.
They last won in the 2003 season, when on Oct. 5 the Browns prevailed, 33-13.
Let’s take a look at our writer’s bold predictions for this Sunday’s matchup.
Writer: Rocco Nuosci
It is officially Pittsburgh Steelers week for the Cleveland Browns.
This matchup certainly has a lot of weight on it.
Of course, both teams are off to great starts this season and would love nothing more than to flex their muscles against a divisional foe.
How will things shake out this week?
Win the Turnover Battle
You are not going to beat the Steelers by being overly conservative.
You also will not beat them by turning the ball over.
Especially in the first half of games this year, the Browns have done a great job of taking care of the football and sustaining long offensive drives.
It allows Baker Mayfield to get comfortable, lets the offense get into a rhythm, and keeps the defense rested.
Pittsburgh, similarly to last year, creates a lot of turnovers.
They rank seventh in the league in turnovers created per game and rank second in forced interceptions per game.
However, do not forget the Browns sit atop the league in average turnovers created.
We’ve seen this defense make explosive plays, and not always from the big-name guys.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 11, 2020
With scoring being up across the league this season, winning the turnover battle each week becomes that much important.
Every possession matters and creating extra ones while taking some away from your opponent is crucial.
If not, however, it could be a long afternoon for the defense.
My Prediction: Steelers 35, Browns 27
Writer: Jake Luppino
The 4-1 Cleveland Browns take the road to face off against undefeated divisional rival, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Last week, the Browns proved me wrong for picking the Colts.
But, this week I am once again picking against the Browns.
Steelers Defense Is Dominant
The Pittsburgh defense is led by DE T.J. Watt — early defensive player of the year candidate — who currently has 4.5 sacks.
While the Browns offensive line has held up through the first five games, they will now be faced with a defensive front who is tied for 1st in sacks (20).
Also, the Browns greatness offensive strength is the Steelers greatest defensive strength.
The Steelers rush defense is the 2nd best in the league, allowing only 64 yards per game on the ground.
Things get ugly for this Browns offense, especially if, Odell Beckham Jr. is not available to play.
Browns’ HC Kevin Stefanski said WR Odell Beckham Jr. was sent home today with an illness.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 15, 2020
The Steelers offense can’t be slept on either as we saw rookie Chase Claypool had 4 touchdowns in last week’s game.
This weekend, Mike Tomlin will out coach Kevin Stefanski and Big Ben will outplay Baker.
My Prediction: Steelers 31, Browns 20
Writer: Adam Lowenstein
The Browns’ trip to Heinz Field is a true test for a Cleveland team that has entered the upper echelon of the NFL in 2020.
Unfortunately, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry may not be at 100 percent for this contest.
In addition, Baker Mayfield is dealing with sore ribs.
Meanwhile, after missing the majority of the 2019 season, Ben Roethlisberger already has more than 1,000 passing yards this year.
Roethlisberger’s offensive unit has just a couple of injuries.
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson has a back issue.
Offensive guard David DeCastro left Week 5 with an abdominal injury.
If Kevin Stanski and company are to have a chance at a Week 6 victory, it will be because the Browns are mostly healthy.
Even without Nick Chubb, the Browns outrushed the Indianapolis Colts, 124 to 68, last week.
In Week 5, Cleveland also dominated the time of possession.
With a large number of injuries on the Browns side of the football, I just do not see that happening this time around.
The 4-0 Steelers slip by the 4-1 Browns in a tremendous battle.
With the emergence of wide receiver Chase Claypool, Roethlisberger is able to find enough receivers to win.
In addition, the Browns lose the turnover battle for the first time since Week 1.
My Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 24
Writer: Mark Bergin
History isn’t favorable to the Browns headed into Sunday’s Week 6 matchup against the Steelers.
Oct. 5, 2003, marked the last time the Browns beat the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
The Browns hold a 1-27 record in Pittsburgh against Steelers teams that made the playoffs.
While the Browns are 4-1 for the first time since 1994, the Steelers are 4-0 for the first time since 1979.
Whichever team can control the line of scrimmage will likely win Sunday’s game.
On the other side of the ball, how do the Steelers handle emerging Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garrett?
Garrett is set to play against the Steelers for the first time since the November 2019 brawl with Mason Rudolph.
Both teams have effective pass rushes, but they pressure quarterbacks at different rates.
The Steelers have the highest pressure rate (42.9%) in the NFL and the second-highest blitz rate (46%).
The Browns have the fourth-highest pressure rate (30.8%) while only blitzing 23% of the time (22nd).
The Browns and Steelers matchup features two of the best pass rushes in the NFL, but they get pressure in different ways.
➤ 42.9% pressure rate (1st), 46% blitz rate (2nd)
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 15, 2020
Baker Mayfield’s struggles against defensive pressure are well documented.
Mayfield is going to have to make plays if the Steelers stack the box to stop Kareem Hunt and company.
Perhaps if running back Nick Chubb were healthy, I’d be more inclined to pick the Browns to win Sunday.
In a matchup of pretty even AFC North teams, I’ll go with what history has shown us.
My Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 20
Writer: Kyle Daubs
The 4-1 record that the Browns hold is nice, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to stay undefeated.
Personally, I am not trying to be a “Negative Nancy,” but the Steelers defense is legit.
The team allows the third-fewest total yards per game at 301.5. Only the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Bucs have a better ranking.
On top of that, the Steelers are allowing just 64.0 rushing yards per contest.
The Browns need to rush the ball and are a better offense when they are running the football and Kareem Hunt could only muster up 72 yards on 20 attempts.
With that being said, I do believe this will be close because the Steelers Achillies Heel is stopping the pass.
The Steelers are the 15th ranked team in defending the ball, so that could play into the Browns favor if Baker Mayfield is on top of his game.
I don’t see the Steelers hanging 38 points on the Browns, but I see the team scoring at least 24 points.
My Prediction: Steelers 24, Browns 20
Writer: Pat Opperman
Despite their impressive 4-1 record, everyone agrees there is room for improvement from the Cleveland Browns.
Especially on the defensive side of the ball, with their shaky backfield and suspect linebacking corps.
Myles Garrett and the rest of the offensive line will have to bring significant pressure on Ben Roethlisberger to help the defenders behind them.
But can they bring enough, especially with Pittsburgh determined to chip and double Garrett as much as possible?
It’s important because the Browns’ offense might find scoring points a bit more difficult this week.
Despite already taking a bye, the Steelers lead the league in sacks and allow only the 2nd-lowest completion percentage.
For all the improvement in Baker Mayfield’s game, Pittsburgh knows he sports one of the worst passer ratings when under pressure.
With Mayfield nursing a sore chest besides, the Steelers will bring as much pressure as possible.
Cleveland can try to maximize their ground attack, but they will find Pittsburgh to be a tough test there, too.
The Steelers allow only 3.3 yards-per-carry, second-best in the NFL.
Browns fans should expect a hard-fought game with some great plays from Mayfield and Kareem Hunt.
But I fear they will be too few and too far between to pull out the victory.
I hope I’m wrong, but…
My Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 17
Writer: Ben Donahue
Look who’s 4-1 for the first time since the Clinton administration!
The Cleveland Browns are 4-1 for the first time since… 1994.
Bill Belichick was the team’s head coach and Nick Saban was defensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/0oaKjEDVDZ
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) October 11, 2020
A hard fought victory over the Colts last Sunday put the Browns in third place in the AFC North.
Both Cleveland and Baltimore have the same record, but the Ravens beat the Browns in Week 1.
It looks like 2020 will be a three-team race in the North Division.
The Browns head to Pittsburgh on Sunday with a chance to cement themselves as one of the best teams in the AFC.
They have to get past a tough Steelers team first. Pittsburgh is 4-0, but the quality of their opponents has been dreadful.
The Steelers have defeated the Giants, Broncos, Texans, and Eagles. Those four teams have a combined three wins, total.
That’s what makes this weekend’s matchup so intriguing.
After losing in Week 1, the Browns have reeled off four straight wins. Indy was a “prove-it” game for Cleveland and they more than passed the test.
If the Browns can put together a solid game-plan this week, limit turnovers, play their game, and stay cool under pressure, they should win.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe Cleveland is there yet.
Pittsburgh is riding the arm of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Big Ben is ranked 23rd in the league in passing yards with 1,016.
Two places behind him is Baker Mayfield with 976.
Roethlisberger’s touchdown-to-interception ratio is 10-1 where Mayfield’s is 9-4.
That means Big Ben is a little more careful with the rock.
Roethlisberger has some weapons to throw to as well. JuJu Smith-Schuster was already a star and rookie Chase Claypool looks like the perfect compliment. Claypool had his breakout game last Sunday when he collected seven passes for 110 yards and three touchdowns.
7/11 … always open. pic.twitter.com/vkv49AK6vL
— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) October 11, 2020
Can the Browns DBs hang with Claypool and Smith-Schuster? I’ll believe it when I see it.
On the flip side, Mayfield has potent targets of his own in OBJ and Jarvis Landry.
However, by the end of the Colts game, he was nursing sore ribs that limited his passing.
That does not bode well against a Steelers defense ranked third in the NFL.
Even with Kareem Hunt softening up the Pittsburgh front, I don’t believe the Browns can continuously withstand the defensive assault of the Steelers.
In the end, Cleveland will come up short.
My Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 20
Writer: Wendi Oliveros
The 5-1 Cleveland Browns roll into Heinz Stadium for an AFC North matchup that rarely disappoints.
Of course, there is even more drama this time because of the ugly Mason Rudolph/Myles Garrett incident that happened in 2019.
Keys To The Game:
The cliche “defense wins championships” may come true again this year.
Myles Garrett has been playing at a phenomenal level and his counterparts on defense have also risen to the challenge.
They will need to pressure Big Ben who can pick apart an opposing team’s secondary given the time.
The Browns have played nearly flawless football for portions of their previous 2 games.
But to beat Pittsburgh, the near flawless play will have to span all 4 quarters.
They will need to build a lead and not let the Steelers back into the game.
Mayfield and company need to manage the clock and play smart, clean football; the offensive line needs to continue their high level of play.
No turnovers or funny business from the offense this week.
3. Special Teams
Cody Parkey‘s kicking has been spot on and needs to stay that way.
What doesn’t need to continue is the special teams TD the Browns gave up last week against the Colts.
It nearly turned the tide in the Colts favor.
My Prediction: Browns 30, Steelers 24