Just a couple short weeks ago, the thought that the Cleveland Browns could uproot the Pittsburgh Steelers on any given day would have been ludicrous. Two weeks and two quarterbacks later, the Pittsburgh Steelers are as vulnerable as ever, and suddenly, the Browns aren't an easy out.
Even though the Steelers are short on quarterbacks, my focus will be on the Browns' trigger man more than the Steelers'. Brandon Weeden has shown flashes of being a solid NFL starter just as the Steelers' pass defense has shown flashes of incompetence this season. A few big plays can put the Steelers' offense in a position of coming from behind, and that's a tough spot for a team starting their third string quarterback.
The Browns will likely focus on putting the football in Steelers quarterback, Charlie Batch's hands. To do that, Cleveland has to plug up running lanes and force the Steelers to move the ball through the air.
Batch has proven to be a more-than-competent backup in the past, but he hasn't practiced much, if any, with the first team offense until this week. That puts him on a significant timing curve. If there's miscommunications between the quarterback and the wide receivers, the Browns have to be ready to capitalize.
The Steelers have a big, tough team, and they can still beat the Browns. Still, the lack of Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich has turned this game from a sure win to a game that could be as close as a toss up. Look for the Browns to come in ready to knock off one of their hated rivals.