Browns/Steelers Match-Ups For Keys To Victory Week 2

September 18, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Night Football matchups to watch:

1 – Jones vs Watt


This is the match-up that seems to give most Browns fans, including me, the most nerves.  For a rookie in OT Dawand Jones going up against one of the best defenders in the NFL in TJ Watt.  What is key for Jones is not to allow Watt to take over the game, Watt will have moments, but you can’t let his energy take over which has happened in past Browns Steelers games.

The good news is that Jones is good in pass coverage and according to analytics sites, he is in the elite category when it comes to his pass blocking.  With Jones’s size, 374 LBS, I do believe he will have moments where Watt is going to have a hard time getting around him.

I don’t believe Jones will allow Watt to go off and Watt’s specialty is sacking the quarterback which goes up against Jones’s strength of protecting in passing situations.  Watt will have some moments, but will not take the game over with his play.


After a very impressive preseason, fourth-round rookie Dawand Jones has eased the worries of Browns fans concerning the loss of Jack Conklin for the season. Conklin’s consistency and stability in his play with the Browns represent a significant loss, however, especially considering Jones is just a fourth-round rookie.

Throughout the preseason, Jones’s imposing size and quickness were evident in pass protection, and this continued when he stepped in for Conklin against the Bengals. TJ Watt is not your ordinary opponent, and I anticipate the Browns will employ chips and as many double teams as possible to contain him.

While Jones’s incredible size will allow him to hold his ground in certain situations, Watt’s dominant talent will undoubtedly result in him winning his fair share of reps. Watt should be the top priority for the offensive line, and the first step towards a successful offensive day is ensuring he doesn’t single-handedly disrupt the game. Expect the Browns to provide plenty of assistance to Jones, particularly given the absence of Cameron Heyward, which weakens the rest of the Steelers’ defensive unit.

2 – Browns DL vs. Steelers OL


Week one demonstrated exactly what the offseason had hinted at dominant defensive line play. The utilization of three defensive ends on passing downs enables Myles Garrett to occupy two offensive linemen, while Za’Darius Smith and Ogbo Okoronkwo engage in one-on-one matchups. This trio of pass rushers boasts exceptional talent, and they are bound to succeed when isolated.

On the interior, newcomers Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris excelled against the run in week one. Their ability to push the offensive line backward and shed blockers to make tackles for short gains is a consistent asset that the Browns have rarely enjoyed from their interior defensive line. Stopping the run is a top priority for every coordinator, and these individuals make it easier to accomplish that task.

The Steelers’ offensive line as a whole is not particularly strong, especially on the edges. The guards may be a slight strength, but pass blocking could be a significant challenge for the Steelers. Generating intense pressure on Kenny Pickett in passing situations can enable the Browns to take control of the game once again, possibly even leading to turnovers this time.


I am surprised this matchup is not being talked about more as the Steelers had a hard time protecting Kenny Pickett, giving up five sacks.  Excellent opportunity for the Brown’s Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith to tee off on Pickett.

The Browns should be prepared for the Steelers to go run-heavy, and Cleveland must find a way to keep the running game contained.  If the Browns can slow down the Pittsburgh running game like San Francisco did, it is going to be very difficult for the Steelers to win and with the Brown’s secondary coverage combined with the defensive line it will make for a successful night for our Brown and Orange.

3 – Chubb Running game vs. Steelers run D


Nick Chubb got dubbed “Mr. Chubb” by the Steelers this week and rightfully so as Chubb is one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the game.  The Browns split last year with the Steelers and it was pretty easy to see how Chubb ran the ball well in both games, but in the last game of the season in Pittsburgh, he only got twelve touches compared to 23 touches in the victory.

The Browns need to make sure to give Chubb the ball as the Steelers did not contain Chubb at all last year.  If Chubb gets 15 or more carries, good chance the Browns win, if not, the yellow towels will be waiving.


The Browns are likely to rely on Nick Chubb as usual, especially to alleviate some of the pressure on Deshaun Watson in a hostile environment. The absence of Cameron Heyward is detrimental to the Steelers in all aspects, including the run game. While the Browns’ offensive line is one of the best in the league, the transition from Conklin to Jones represents a downgrade in the run game. The pulling guards will help to support Jones and establish the perimeter, but it is crucial for Jones to understand his assignments to prevent too many disrupted plays.

In 2022 and week one, the Steelers ranked in the middle of the pack in rushing EPA (estimated points added per play), and Chubb is one of the most efficient backs in the league. His 1.42 rushing yards over expected per attempt aligns perfectly with his past performances, and I believe Chubb has a favorable matchup on the road, which could lead to another dominant performance.

4 – Watson/Pickett


The Browns should have the upper hand at quarterback, especially when considering both offensive and defensive linemen. Pickett is likely to face a tough challenge against this formidable Browns front, and the Browns’ secondary gains an advantage with Diontae Johnson out and George Pickens listed on the injury report with a hamstring issue. The Browns will rely on Chubb to set the tempo on the ground, but Deshaun Watson could greatly benefit from delivering a standout performance on the road to regain his momentum.

On paper, the advantage appears to be with Watson and the Browns, and they have a significant opportunity to make Pickett’s life exceedingly difficult. While Pickett showed signs of improvement towards the end of last year, facing this defense without his two receivers at full strength presents a huge challenge.


Last week Deshaun Watson outplayed Joe Burrow and the Browns ended up with a win, this week it looks to be a favorable match-up with the quarterbacks for the Browns with Watson going up against Kenny Pickett.

We should be reminded, that the Browns do not need Watson to stand on his head and be a miracle man with his arm as the Browns have Chubb and a good defense.  They just need Watson to make plays and at times scramble his way with his legs for first downs. 

That said, in this match, the Browns do have a big advantage at quarterback and Pickett is being asked to do more for the Steelers to win compared to Watson.  Advantage Browns.

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