Stillers-Browns Preview(Game #7)
The Browns prepare to enter 3 Rivers one last time. There's been many historic & historic games in 3 Rivers between these 2 teams, including last year's, in which the Stillers gave away a commanding lead with a dumbassed INT on a screen play, followed by a stand-around defense that allowed Cleveland to march for the winning FG. The Stillers offense stunk and sputtered last week, and the team hopefully put forth a much more concerted effort in practice this past week. Even before Couch got hurt, this game should have been one in which the Stillers, bitter over the last 2 shameful defeats to Cleveland, came out and stuck the wood to the hapless Brownies. With Couch out, this should be an even worse whipping, but Cowher is world renown for playing down to the level of his competition, due to his asinine penchant of wanting to keep every game close.
* When the Browns have the ball, they'll be led by QB Doug Pederson, who is hardly a capable starting NFL QB. Pederson does have some solid skill players to help out. Rookie RB Travis Prentice has really come on, scoring 4 TDs in the past 2 games. Injuries have really ravaged what was turning out to be a good WR corps. Dawson is out, as is David Patten. KJ, Northcutt, and the gritty Chiavernini will man the WR spots. The Stiller defense should be able to smother this depleted receiving corps, while continuing to dominate the trenches and harass the QB. The key matchup will be LT Roman Oben versus ROLB Joey Porter. Oben is solid but unspectacular. Porter has really come on the past couple of weeks, and should be given plenty of chances by Lewis to blitz and go after the QB.
* When the Stillers have the ball, they'll surely rely on plenty of ground work by Bettis. Cowher has to be leery of his passing game, and with Couch out, Cowher will assume that 15 points will be more than enough to win the game. The OL has really picked it up since the last time these 2 teams met, so both the running game and QB protection should be much better. It'd be nice of this on again, off-again passing game can find a groove, what with Cleveland's secondary being so poor that they made Griese look like Danny Marino last week in the blowout loss to Denver. The key matchup is WR Plexico Burress against midget CB Daylon McCutcheon. I don't want to hear any more balderdash from Kevin Gaypride. It's time to throw the ball DOWNFIELD -- not 3 yards -- to Plexico and see that this man can do, especially against a run CB like Daylon. The other key matchup will be RT Larry Tharpe against DE Courtney Brown. Courtney made Marvel Smith look like a bumbling boob, bullrushing him and tossing him about en route to 2 sacks, plus the sack on Graham as Graham refused to the throw the ball away on what turned out to be the game's final play. Tharpe has more than held his own the past 2 weeks, and he'll need to do at least an adequate job on Brown.
* Last week, my biggest fear was this team being too lax and complacent. Sure enough, the team admitted to a shitty week of practice, and they stunk and sputtered after Ward's big TD. Complacency is the biggest enemy this week, too, especially now that Couch is out. This isn't a good enough team, nor does its coaching staff do anywhere near a good enough job building a solid, well-founded game-plan, that they can simply mail it in and expect to win. Let's hope the home crowd will help spur on the team, as well as a continued hell-raising defense by the Stillers, who will sputter a bit but still win, 19-10.
The Still Mill