Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday Night Football Week 14
Browns vs. Steelers
This is going to be a one sided game.  The Browns allow the second most rushing yards per game in the league, 151.  Their offense is abysmal with only 197 passing yards per game and 94 rushing yards a game, good for 24th and 30th respectively.  Hillis is expected to start, and they will probably rely on their running game often.  Big Ben should have his way with the Browns in this one and I would look for one or two big plays to Wallace.  In addition to Wallace, look for Mendenhall to have a big night.  With a bad rushing defense, Mendenhall should be able to break off some big runs.  The Steelers have won 8 of their last 9 and are trying to get ahead of the Ravens to win the division.  A big key to their success has been their great defense.  They have only allowed 177 yards per game passing, 2nd best, and 97 yards rushing, 7th best.  The line on this game is 14.5 and although the Steelers will win this game, it is possible for the Browns to keep it within 2 TDs.  The Steelers have not been punishing teams and the Browns have only lost two games this year by over 14 points.  I will take the Browns to lose by 2 TDs or less in this game.
Browns (+14.5)

Halftime: Steelers lead at half, but lose Big Ben
Ben Roethlisberger left the game with a little over five minutes to go in the half.  He got hit by two Browns, and his ankle was caught under them.   He was helped off the field and Batch took over for him at QB.  Before leaving he was 8 for 9 for 102 yards and a TD.  Both teams are struggling to get it going on offense but the Browns are keeping it close.  If Big Ben stays out, then maybe the Browns have a chance to get out in front in this game.  The Pittsburgh defense has looked pretty good, minus a draw that got the Browns 28 yards.  With or without Big Ben, it is going to be an uphill battle.  This could be bad news for the Steelers, but we will have to watch how the injury progresses.  We'll see how the Steelers defense responds and if they can carry the team.
 Injury Update: X-rays negative on Big Ben, he is limping, but playing in the second half.

FINAL: Steelers win on Thursday Night, 14-3 
The Browns were able to keep it close until McCoy threw an interception in the endzone late in the fourth quarter, as the Browns were threatening to take the lead.  
The Steelers finally broke out a big play on offense after the turnover, a 79 yard TD from Roethlisberger to Brown.  Until the 79 yard touchdown it had been a 7-3 game since the first quarter.  The Steelers let the Browns stick close, something the Steelers let teams do far too often.  This will be something that might come back to haunt them come playoff time.  But tonight, they got it done.  It wasn't pretty, it wasn't dominant, but it was a win.  The Browns played a tough game and gave it their best effort.  McCoy took a few hits in this one that drew personal fouls, including a helmet to helmet hit from James Harrison that will probably result in another fine for Harrison.  Both these teams took a large amount of abuse in a very physical game.  Roethlisberger finished with 280 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT as returned after halftime with a bad ankle and visibly limping.  Mendenhall finished with 18 carries for 76 yards.  The Steelers, at 10-3, continue to fight for the division and keep the pressure on the Ravens.  
Browns (+14.5) Win

Check back later in the week for a full preview of week 14 action!

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