Pittsburgh Steelers: Turnpike Bowl 2015 Vs. Browns


If you look on Wikipedia regarding the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, you will find that this series is often referred to as the “Turnpike Rivalry” or  the “Turnpike War.” Many fans will also call it the Turnpike Bowl. The reason for the game label is due to the fact that the two cities are only separated by about a two hour drive by car via the state’s turnpikes.

Since the rivalry began in 1950 with Cleveland winning that first game 30-17, the two teams have square off 124 times with Pittsburgh holding a 66-58 advantage. Twice the Browns and Steelers have met in the post-season with Pittsburgh winnings both times. But since 2000, the Black and Gold essentially own this rivalry with Pittsburgh winning 26 of 31 games played.

Cleveland won the last game of 2014 31-10 in October, but prior to that, Pittsburgh had won eight of the previous 10. So here it is this Sunday the first meeting of 2015 and Cleveland’s latest starting quarterback Josh McCown will sit and the controversial Johnny Manziel gets another start. On the other side, the Steelers starting QB also sits for at least this game as Landry Jones steps in again.

When Cleveland has the ball: When Dick LeBeau was the defensive coordinator, he loved to feast on young quarterbacks. Will new DC Keith Butler’s unit have the same success? Cleveland’s  offense ranks 27th overall in the NFL while the Steelers’ defense is #22. Johnny Manziel has thrown four touchdowns on 83 passing attempts with just one interception. His completion percentage is a good 51.8 but his quarterback rating is 84.5.

Cleveland’s running attack is virtually non-existent, with Isaiah Crowell leading the way with only 333 yards and a poor 3.3 yards-per-carry. What Cleveland will probably do is try to let “Johnny Football” do his thing. The problem for the Browns is that Manziel likes to scramble and Pittsburgh not only has dynamite speed on defense but guys who like to hit (Mike Mitchell/Antwon Blake). This could be a long day for the Browns’ offense.

When the Steelers have the ball: For those that fret that Ben Roethlisberger is not behind center and worry about Landry Jones is managing the offense, consider the following for the season. Big Ben’s rating is 92.2. Landry Jones? How about 95.7? Roethlisberger’s completion percentage is a bit better at 66.9 to 59.6,  but Jones has played well and played with confidence and poise.

It helps to have weapons like Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller, and DeAngelo Williams on either side and behind him.

The Browns are 29th in total defense. Still, they’ve been competitive in some of their games but the stats speak for themselves. 22nd in the NFL against the pass but DEAD last in the league against the run. That does not bode well for Cleveland with the way DeAngelo Williams has been running. Expect a big day all around for Pittsburgh’s offense.

Next: NFL: Week Ten Quick Strikes

Intangibles: Another game for the Steelers where there is no way they should lose. Hopefully, Mike Tomlin will treat this game as he would with any other high caliber opponent. Pittsburgh can be guilty of playing down to an opponent, but they won’t commit that foul on Sunday.

Prediction: Even without Big Ben, Landry Jones simply has too many weapons not to produce against a team with a bad defense. The Steelers’ defense is probably licking their chops at the opportunity to tee off on Johnny Football. Steelers 30 Browns 17.