Steelers vs Browns tale of the tape: Offense

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The 2021 NFL season hasn’t gone according to plan for the Pittsburgh Steelers or Cleveland Browns. Injuries on both teams, paired with being in the best division in football have forced both teams to the bottom and they are scrambling to stay in the playoff hunt.

Let’s do a quick tale of the tape comparing the top offensive players for each team.

Ben Roethlisberger vs Baker Mayfield/Case Keenum

(AP Photo/Don Wright)

Neither team’s passing offense has lived up to expectations so far this season but for different reasons. For the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, the new offensive line and its slow development have stunted the passing offense.

For the Browns, the Baker Mayfield injury hasn’t helped but even when Mayfield has played it really doesn’t feel like he’s got the full confidence of his team to run the passing game at a high level. The litany of injuries to the skills players hasn’t helped either.

Overall, the Steelers have the edge here. Mayfield missed Monday’s practice and there’s a real possibility the Steelers will see Case Keenum again.

Najee Harris vs Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt/D'Ernest Johnson

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Much like quarterback, the Browns are uncertain who will be playing running back when they take on the Steelers. Kareem Hunt won’t play but there’s a real chance Nick Chubb will return to his starting spot and pair up with D’Ernest Johnson.

On the other side, the Steelers have rookie Najee Harris. Pittsburgh has put all their hopes and dreams on Harris being the next great Steelers back and they might just be right. With every week that the offensive line gets better, the team sees more and more of what Harris can do.

As good as Harris is, the edge here goes to Cleveland if Chubb can play. The Browns love to run the football and a combo of Chubb and D’Ernest will pose serious problems for the Steelers.

Steelers pass catchers vs Browns pass catchers

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to injuries and inconsistent play both the Browns and Steelers have rotated through multiple guys at wide receiver and tight end. For both teams, it really illustrates just how deep they are at these spots that they can just sub in players when needed.

In terms of a top target, the Steelers are leaning heavily on wide receiver Diontae Johnson. With each week he seems to be putting those drops behind him and ascending into a truly elite receiver.

For the Browns, injuries to wide receivers Odell-Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have limited them to a point where tight end David Njoku has now become the most consistent weapon the Browns have.

Who has the edge here? It’s impossible to say. Pittsburgh is still trying to figure out what to do without wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and it’s to the point where the Browns top receivers cannot be relied on to stay healthy.

Steelers offensive line vs Browns offensive line

(AP Photo/Don Wright)

Make no mistake, the Steelers offensive line is improving. Every week this group is showing signs of growth with all those young players. The return of Zach Banner is also welcome and could create a position battle at offensive tackle this week.

But this group is not the Browns group. Cleveland is the top rushing team in the NFL and it all starts up front. In particular, the interior offensive line of the Browns is elite. If there is anywhere that the Steelers defense can be attacked it is up the middle and the Browns could exploit that.

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