Fearless Prediction: Browns (1-4) at Steelers (3-2)

Share This Story

foxsports admin


Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots)
SERIES: 113th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series 57-55. The Browns have lost 11 straight to the Steelers. Romeo Crennel had eight chances as head coach and did not beat them once. There was a time when the Browns dominated, but since the second game of the series in 1992, the Browns are 4-25 against the Steelers. KEYS TO THE GAME: RB Jamal Lewis carried the ball 31 times last Sunday after missing two games and needs to be the workhorse again. QB Derek Anderson completed just two passes in Buffalo and has a big group of possession receivers who lack deep speed, so the Browns simply can't afford to get stuck in long passing situations with Pittsburgh rediscovering its aggressive pass rush. The Steelers now have the ability to move the ball on the ground and through the air with the emergence of RB Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall has averaged 5.5 yards per carry the past two games and will take aim at the league's worst run defense (170.4 yards per game). FAST FACTS: The Steelers have won the past 11 meetings and 18 of the 21 since the Browns re-entered the league in 1999, including playoffs. ... Lewis needs 66 rushing yards to reach 1,000 in his career against Pittsburgh.

Personnel News

  • NT Shaun Rogers was excused from practice Thursday for the second straight day for personal reasons.
  • DE Kenyon Coleman practiced on a limited basis Thursday. A groin injury prevented him from practicing Wednesday.
  • TE Steve Heiden practiced on a limited basis after missing Wednesday with a knee injury.
  • OL Floyd Womack might be close to reclaiming his job as the starting right guard. After missing three games with an ankle injury and being limited Wednesday he had full participation Thursday.
  • RB Jamal Lewis had full participation in practice Thursday. He missed two games with a hamstring injury and then rushed for 117 yards against Buffalo. He was limited Wednesday with the injury.
  • SS Troy Polamalu went through a second full practice Thursday and said he feels fine and should not be limited Sunday against Cleveland. He missed the past four games with a sprained MCL.
  • DE Travis Kirschke returned for a full practice Thursday and will start in place of Aaron Smith on the left side. He missed Wednesday with a back problem.
  • QB Ben Roethlisberger is on pace to throw for 4,700 yards, which would break the Steelers' record set by Terry Bradshaw in 1979 by approximately 1,000 yards.
  • WR Limas Sweed, the team's second-round pick in 2008, has just one catch and is not likely to dress Sunday.
  • WR Hines Ward, 33, has exceeded 440 receiving yards after five games once before in his NFL career with 455 in 2004.

Inside the Camps

Browns: If it comes down to needing a field goal Sunday in Pittsburgh the Browns might be able to turn to Phil Dawson for the first time in a month. Dawson hasn't kicked since the Browns lost in Denver, 27-6, on Sept. 20. He injured his right calf on the Friday before the Browns played in Baltimore and was forced to miss the next three weeks of practice and the games against the Ravens, Bengals and Bills. Dawson returned to practice Wednesday and practiced again on a limited basis on a rain-soaked field Thursday. There is no guarantee he will be ready for the Steelers, but he is definitely making progress and is eager to play again. "I'm working hard to get better," Dawson said. "To sit there on your couch is pretty tough. I'm not used to it. You live and die with (the Browns). It's easier to be out there feeling like you're contributing than to be sitting there with absolutely nothing to offer. It makes you appreciate things." Dawson, in his 11th season with the Browns, was four of 4-for-4 goal tries before he was injured. His replacement, Billy Cundiff, is 5-for-5. Cundiff kicked the game-winning 18-yard field goal against the Bills last week. Dawson said whether he kicks Sunday is up to coach Eric Mangini. Mangini said he is optimistic. But he has said that the last two weeks. The Browns have lost 25 of their last 29 games with the Steelers. Dawson was the hero of one of them with a 39-yard field goal in 1999 for a 16-15 Browns' win. That was in Three Rivers Stadium. Heinz Field, where the Steelers play now, is notoriously one of the worst fields in the league. "Pittsburgh's a tough place to kick, but you can't make too big an issue out of it," Dawson said. "If you go into it thinking it's going to be a long, hard day, you kind of create a self-fulfilling prophecy." Dawson, 186 of 224 on field-goal attempts (83 percent), is 7 of 12 (58 percent) in Heinz Field. He has not kicked a field goal there since 2004. He did not attempt a field goal in Pittsburgh in 2005 and was 0-for-1 each of the last three years. Misses the last two years can't be blamed totally on the field conditions or Dawson. In 2007 he missed from 52 yards as time expired in a 31-28 loss. Last year he was wide left from 53 yards in a 31-0 loss. His miss in 2006 was from 40 yards in a 27-7 defeat. Steelers: In the continuing flip-flop of Steelers running backs, Willie Parker is in and Rashard Mendenhall out. That, however, may have been for only one practice on Thursday, which Mendenhall skipped because of illness. Pittsburgh coach Mike Mike Tomlin has not said whether he will start Mendenhall for a third straight game or return to Parker, who missed the past two with turf toe. Parker has gone through two full practices and said his toe feels better and that he is growing comfortable with the shoes Nike had made to provide extra support for the left big toe. "I felt better today, yeah, most definitely," Parker said after practice Thursday. "I'm getting comfortable. I'm loving the shoes." Tomlin has kept his decision a mystery on a starting halfback Sunday against Cleveland at Heinz Field. Mendenhall ran well in his two starts with Parker absent, rushing for 242 yards and three touchdowns. But Parker has been their starter since 2005, and giving him the nod against the Browns is not out of the question. "Whatever coach decides," Parker said. "He's going to make that decision. That's on Coach." Parker averaged 1,337 yards for three straight seasons through 2007, but he missed five games last season with knee and shoulder injuries and now two this season. He has 159 yards rushing, a 3.1-yard average and no rushing touchdowns. PREDICTION: Steelers 34-14

More Stories From foxsports admin

More Than Sports on MSN