Friday, September 7, 2012
Williamson: Previewing Sunday's games
By Matt Williamson
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson analyzes Sunday's games involving AFC North teams:
Steelers at Broncos: Going into a difficult road game under the national spotlight is never easy, but I still like Pittsburgh to win this rematch of a 2011 wild card game. It’s difficult to predict how Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will look in terms of arm strength, but his mind will certainly be as sharp as ever, and Denver’s offense will find a way to score points. It’s the Broncos’ defense that concerns me.
There’s no question Von Miller -- my pick for 2012 Defensive Player of the Year -- and Elvis Dumervil will create havoc as pass-rushers, but there are major problems up the middle, and linebacker D.J. Williams is suspended for this game. Expect the Steelers to attempt to control the game early with their massive interior offensive linemen and physical running backs, which should lead to some deep shots down the field to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown off play-action later on.
Philadelphia at Cleveland: This might be the most lopsided game of the week. Philadelphia is simply far more talented overall, and we have no idea what to expect from nicked-up Cleveland rookie running back Trent Richardson. The Browns will need some big plays on special teams from Josh Cribbs, a big game from Richardson, and some bad plays from Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in order to have any chance.
I just don’t see all that happening, though. Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden doesn’t deal with pressure well or move well in the pocket, and he will be under constant duress from Philadelphia’s talented and deep defensive line as the Eagles play a lot of man coverage against unproven receivers. On the other side of the ball, Philadelphia could be primed for many big plays through the air, and on the ground with both Vick and running back LeSean McCoy. There really isn’t one area in this matchup that favors the Browns.