PFF Preview: Browns @ Steelers, Week 1
As football is finally upon us this Sunday, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers look to regain their form of old as they host the Cleveland Browns and rookie head coach Mike Pettine in an important Week 1 divisional game.
Posting an overall Wide Receiver grade of +18.4, tied for third at the position with Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown also graded out as the NFL’s best in the receiving category, with a grade of +18.5. Considered to be the Steelers’ top offensive weapon, especially now that Emmanuel Sanders found a new home in Denver, Cleveland will look to limit his production on Sunday.
The man responsible for stopping Antonio Brown on Sunday will most likely be Joe Haden, widely considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Playing a total of 1,064 snaps in 2013, Joe Haden graded out 17th among cornerbacks last year with a +9.4 mark.
Here are three more notable numbers for each side:
The Browns’ Defense – As a unit, the Browns posted a -3.5 run defense rating, finishing towards the middle of the pack. The Browns need to ensure they are able to stop the run early so it doesn’t keep them vulnerable in the pass game and the deep threat that Antonio Brown poses.
Jordan Cameron – With the possible loss of Josh Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013 with 1646 yards, Jordan Cameron looks to be Brian Hoyer’s top offensive target come Sunday. Cameron finished the 2013 season with 917 receiving yards, second to only Jimmy Graham among all tight ends. Cameron also finished third in 2013 with a total of 80 receptions.
The Brown’s Offense – Although they seem to have limited offensive weapons, Brian Hoyer should have time to sling the ball around, as the Brown’s offensive line unit finished fifth in the league in pass blocking, posting a grade of +18.9.
The Steelers Defense – Remember that dominant Steelers defense we’re accustomed to seeing? Well, we saw very little of that in 2013, as they ended the season posting an overall defensive grade of -11.8. The Steelers hope their 2014 No. 1 overall pick, Ryan Shazier, is able to help them regain their old dominant form.
The Steelers Discipline – As we anticipate a 2014 season with an emphasis on penalties, especially defensive penalties, we’ll take a look at the Steelers 2013 defensive penalties grade. The Steelers were one of the best in terms of a disciplined defense, as they graded out with a +14.2 defensive penalty rating, good for fourth in the league. Third place? Well that belonged to the Cleveland Browns who posted a grade of +15.6. This will be an important factor in a tough divisional Week 1 game.
Ben Roethlisberger – Roethlisberger’s 2013 campaign flew a bit under the radar due to the Steelers’ lackluster season. He finished the year with an overall rating of +15.0, just missing out on the Top 10 as Jay Cutler snuck just in front of him with a +15.2.
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