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Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Predictions 10-18-2020

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AFC North matchups between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are always heated given the teams' proximity and history, but things could be heightened in the newest version of the rivalry Sunday at Heinz Field.

This time, both teams are having strong seasons after Cleveland (4-1) has manned the struggling side of the equation for years. Pittsburgh (4-0) will be aiming to remain unbeaten.

Also this time, there could be a marquee matchup of quarterbacks.

The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, 38, has bounced back from elbow surgery a year ago, while Baker Mayfield, 25, seems to be blossoming into the franchise quarterback the Browns have been seeking for years.

"Coming back from an injury, not playing last year, I was a little worried about my play and what was going to happen," said Roethlisberger, who has thrown for 10 touchdowns and one interception. "I am just glad we are winning football games."

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski doesn't see a dropoff in the presumptive future Hall of Famer. "He's a problem for defenses," he said of Roethlisberger. "Coming back off of injury, he looks outstanding to me."

Mayfield came out of last weekend's 32-23 win over Indianapolis with tender ribs and was limited in practice Wednesday, saying he was "sore ... but that is why we have the rest of the week until game day."

The Steelers are well aware of the rib problem.

"It's up to us to make him think about that injury at the end of the day," Pittsburgh defensive end Cam Heyward said.

The Steelers have the NFL's No. 3-ranked defense, something that does not deter Mayfield.

"It's a great test for us," he said. "They bring the physical challenge. They'll hit you and try to impose their will, but that's what our division is all about. We have to play that ball and match that energy and then exceed it."

During their four-game winning streak, the Browns have scored at least 30 points, the first time they have reached that total in four straight games since 1968.

Protecting Mayfield would seem to be a priority. He has been sacked just seven times in five games. Pittsburgh leads the league with an average of five sacks a game.

Perhaps more than Heyward, the Browns will need to try to contain outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, who have combined for 7 1/2 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.

"They rush with violence," Stefanski said. "It's a very impressive, formidable scheme."

Watt (shoulder), like Mayfield, was limited in practice Wednesday but seems likely to play.

Also for the Steelers, guard David DeCastro (abdomen), center Maurkice Pouncey (foot) and receiver Diontae Johnson (back) didn't practice Wednesday but all three are candidates to practice later in the week and play. Less clear is the status of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and tight end Eric Ebron (hand). Neither practiced Wednesday.

For Cleveland, in addition to Mayfield, safeties Ronnie Harrison (concussion) and Karl Joseph (hamstring) and receiver Jarvis Landry (hips/ribs) were out Wednesday, although Stefanski said he expects Landry to return to practice this week. Running back Kareem Hunt (thigh), who has been carrying the load with Nick Chubb hurt, was limited Wednesday.

--Field Level Media

Prediction

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Key Players to Watch

Stadium

Heinz Field
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Capacity: 65,050

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Last Injuries

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Maurkice Pouncey

    Foot
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Pouncey sustained a foot injury in the last contest. It remains to be seen if he will line up against the Titans on Sunday.

  • Stefen Wisniewski

    Pectoral
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Wisniewski has hit the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with a pectoral injury, and the team has two weeks in order to activate him.

  • Diontae Johnson

    Back
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Johnson was absent from the last game due to a back injury, and it is unknown if he will be active Sunday versus the Titans.

  • David DeCastro

    Abdominal
    Ques Sun | questionable

    DeCastro missed the last game due to an abdominal injury. It is undetermined if he will play against the Titans on Sunday.

  • Devin Bush

    Knee
    out for season | out

    Bush tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

  • Mike Hilton

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Hilton was lifted from the previous game with a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will suit up Sunday versus the Titans.

  • Derek Watt

    Hamstring
    Prob Sun | probable

    Watt sustained a Grade 2 hamstring pull, but he is projected to be in Sunday's lineup versus the Browns.

  • Maurkice Pouncey

    Foot
    Prob Sun | probable

    Pouncey sustained a foot injury in the previous contest, but he is projected to face the Browns on Sunday.

Cleveland Browns

  • Wyatt Teller

    Calf
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Teller sat out the last game with a calf injury, and it is unclear if he will be ready for Sunday's contest versus the Bengals.

  • Jacob Phillips

    Knee
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Phillips was absent from the previous contest with a knee injury, and it is undetermined if he will line up against the Bengals in on Sunday.

  • Ronnie Harrison Jr.

    Concussion
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Harrison Jr. missed the last contest after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. It is unknown if he will dress for Sunday's matchup versus the Bengals.

  • Baker Mayfield

    Ribs
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Mayfield was forced from the previous game due to a rib injury. It remains to be seen if he will line up against the Bengals on Sunday.

  • Karl Joseph

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Joseph has sat out the last two games with a hamstring injury, and it is unknown if he will be active for Sunday's tilt against the Bengals.

  • Sheldon Richardson

    Elbow
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Richardson has an elbow injury, and it is unknown if he will be in Sunday's lineup versus the Steelers.

  • JC Tretter

    Knee
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Tretter is battling a knee injury, and it has yet to be established if he will be on the field against the Steelers on Sunday.

  • Baker Mayfield

    Chest
    Prob Sun | probable

    Mayfield is tending to a chest injury, but he is likely to be available for Sunday's matchup against the Steelers.