COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Browns looked like an AFC North contending team just days ago. Now they must figure out how to win without their star quarterback.
Here are the keys to Week 11’s game:
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at Cleveland Browns (6-3)
Sunday, Nov. 19 at Cleveland Browns Stadium, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Watson fallout: While the Browns have more than held their own in multiple absences of QB Deshaun Watson, the team must now forge on without him for the remainder of the season. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been named the starting quarterback this week. He threw three interceptions in his lone start of the season, a 28-3 loss to the Ravens. That said, unlike in Week 4, when it was announced 90 minutes before kickoff he would start, Thompson-Robinson has had several days to practice with the first team. Will it be enough?
The Steelers defense, while soft in yards allowed, rank seventh in QB rating against (81.5) and own the league’s best turnover ratio at +10, forcing 18 turnovers this season. Accounting for an opportunistic secondary, Player-of-the-Year candidate T.J. Watt and bookend Alex Highsmith may be too much for Dorian-Thompson to handle.
They also have QB PJ Walker, who is effectively 2-1 as a starter (he played over three quarters in the win at Indianapolis). Walker, however, has just one touchdown pass to five interceptions this season.
Nevertheless, the Browns still own the second best run game in the league (147.9 yards-per-game) and will need to lean heavily on Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt to limit Pittsburgh’s opportunities.
Heinz 57: Ketchup pours slowly. So does the Steelers offense, which has gone 57 consecutive games without gaining 400 yards. While the Steelers have a winning record despite being outgained in all nine games this season, the Browns would do themselves a favor in keeping both of those streaks alive. The Steelers have shown signs of life the last two weeks, rushing for 166 and 205 yards in wins against the Titans and Packers. If the Browns defense – top ranked in the league – allows Pittsburgh to end said streaks, combined with their uncertainty at quarterback, it could be a quick ticket to 6-4.
Line: 1 ½. O/U: 32 ½.
Prediction: It was Cleveland and the points all day until the QB change was announced. Steelers win 17-16.