2021 Wild Card
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The 6th seed Cleveland Browns will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the 3rd seed Steelers for the 2nd straight week. This 2021 Wild Card matchup will be different than week 17. The Steelers rested some players and will be ready to rumble with their division rival for the wild card against the Browns.

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How The Browns Win

Run The Ball

The ability for the Browns to get the run game going against the Steelers is vital to their success. Using Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to move the chains can make it or break it for the Browns. That’ll be a tough task against the Steelers as they are just outside the top 10 against rushing yards. At home, however, they are 2nd against the run for yards.

The Browns are the 3rd leading rushing team in the NFL. This will be a battle of wills. If they can run the ball effectively, their chances of winning increase exponentially. If they can’t run the ball, it’ll be a rough day against the Steelers.

Force The Steelers To Run The Ball

Ironically enough, the best way for the Browns to win on defense is to force the Steelers to run the ball. For whatever reason, offensive coordinator, lack of talent, etc, the Steelers run game is non-existent. The Steelers rank 28th in rushing as a team. This team is a playoff team and ranks 28th, just think about that. The Browns actually rank higher in run defense than the Steelers at 9th for rushing yards per game. If they force the Steelers to run, that only helps them out.

Trust Kevin Stefanski’s Game Plan

Kevin Stefanski is out now that he has to go through COVID-19 protocol. With that being said, Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer will be the acting head coach against the Steelers. The Offensive Coordinator, Alex Van Pelt, will take of play-calling duties for the Browns that Kevin Stefanski usually handles.

Kevin Stefanski has coached his team to an 11-5 record. The man knows what he is doing. I have to think he will be heavily involved in the game planning despite his COVID-19 test. I would follow his game plan as much as I could. Sure, situations arise during the game where decisions need to be made, but if Kevin Stefanski wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t either. Trust his game plan will be enough for the Browns to beat the Steelers.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – NOVEMBER 22: Wide receiver Chase Claypool#11 celebrates a touchdown with fellow wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 22, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Jaguars 27-3. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

How The Steelers Win

Let Baker Mayfield Throw The Ball

The Steelers should do everything they can to focus on the dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt for the 2021 Wild Card. These players are more valuable to the Browns than Baker Mayfield. Baker Mayfield would have to have a rare lights-out game against the Steelers defense to win that way.

The Steelers’ pass defense is 3rd in passing yards against them. If Baker Mayfield is as bad as we think, let him throw the ball. He will make mistakes. Let him try to beat you. The Steelers will hate themselves if Chubb runs all over them and they lose. They have a much better chance of winning by letting Baker Mayfield try to beat you. If Baker somehow does. that will probably be an act of God.

Focus On Jarvis Landry

If the Steelers let Baker Mayfield pass the ball, the most consistent and best option for him is Jarvis Landry. Taking that option away and his receiving options aren’t nearly as good. I don’t care what they do: Double him, dedicating a side of the field to him, whichever, make sure Jarvis Landry has a very hard day. Forcing Baker to pass elsewhere against a top 3 passing defense is what they want.

Throw The Ball

Give up on the run game. Who cares? The Steelers are much better in the passing game. The Steelers don’t even need to run the ball 10 times to win this game. First and foremost, the Browns defense against the pass ranks 22nd in yards. That means just about any team can throw the ball against them. Now, throw in the fact the Steelers have studs in their receiving corps in Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, that’s a hard trio to guard.

Why even try to establish the run? The passing game is so much more effective than trying to run. Trying to run might ruin momentum for the Steelers. Throw often, throw early. Just hope Big Ben’s arm can handle it. If he can, it might not be all that close of a game.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 20

For this 2021 Wild Card matchup, I’m giving the Browns the benefit of the doubt to make this a one-possession game, but this game could get ugly. It really depends on the Steelers’ offense. With Mason Rudolph at QB, the Steelers barely lost to the Browns by 2 points. You have to think the Steelers should run away with this game with Big Ben. I’m glad the Browns made it to the playoffs, but they’re about to get hit with a reality check.

The spread for this game is Steelers -6. Hammer that bet and expect more than a -6 victory.