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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns: Who Has the Advantage?

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Steelers vs. Browns: Who Has the Advantage?

Steelers-Browns
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Things are starting to tighten up in what seems to be an unpredictable AFC North division. Entering Week 12 of the 2013 NFL season, there is a three-way tie for second place with teams that have records of 4-6. Two of those teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, will face off in a very pivotal matchup this coming Sunday.

With the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals sitting at home for their bye week, a potential loss by the Baltimore Ravens will put the winner of this game in sole possession of second place in the AFC North, and two games behind the Bengals with five games remaining in the regular season.

The Steelers appear to have found a wave of momentum as of late, winning three of their last five games. Pittsburgh’s sudden turnaround now has Steeler Nation on the edge of their seats, hoping for a late run to the postseason, which is something that didn’t seem apparent in the first half of the season.

After riding high on a three-game winning streak earlier in the year, the Browns are now struggling, having won only one of their last five contests. Cleveland’s defense is one of the stoutest units in the league. Their overall defense, and play against the pass and run, are all ranked in the top 10 in the league. Unfortunately, their stagnant offense has held the entire team back.

Seeing where both teams were at the beginning of the season, no one would have thought that this game would be an important one, but it turns out that it could be the mark of a huge turning point for both ball clubs. Take a look and see who should have the upper hand in this divisional battle.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+

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Steelers Pass Offense vs. Browns Pass Defense

Steelers-Browns
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming off his best game of the season. It’s still unknown if Pittsburgh will use the no-huddle offense like they did last week. If the Steelers want repeated success in the passing game, they should at some point implement the no-huddle, especially for their offensive line that will be up against a Cleveland defense that has 31 sacks on the season.

Advantage: Steelers

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Steelers Run Offense vs. Browns Run Defense

Steelers-Browns
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Even with rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh still hasn’t found a formula to fix their 30th ranked running game. Cleveland’s defense is giving up less than 100 yards per game, and will more than likely do the same this week.

Advantage: Browns

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Browns Pass Offense vs. Steelers Pass Defense

Steelers-Browns
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns still haven’t found an answer for their quarterback position. Pittsburgh’s eighth-ranked pass defense showed what they could do last week against Detroit Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson when they shut him out for virtually three whole quarters of football. The Steelers’ secondary, along with a slightly improved pass rush, should prevail in this matchup.

Advantage: Steelers

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Browns Run Offense vs. Steelers Run Defense

Steelers-Browns
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Just like their passing game, Cleveland’s rushing attack isn’t giving any excitement to Browns fans, and has only scored once on the ground. Even though Pittsburgh has struggled in stopping the run this season, during their current two-game winning streak, they have held opposing running backs under 100 yards.

Advantage: Steelers

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Special Teams

Steelers-Browns
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns have had only 17 field goal attempts so far this season, and had one of their kicks blocked. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham has the third-most converted field goals up to this point with 22.

Advantage: Steelers

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Coaching

Steelers-Browns
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of trade rumors, or any other off-the-field distraction, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has found ways to keep his team focused during their recent success. Cleveland’s recent misfortune still hasn’t been fixed by their head coach Rob Chudzinski.

Advantage: Steelers

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Prediction

Steelers-Browns
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland should keep it a close game, thanks to their defense and having home-field advantage. However, Pittsburgh’s history against the Browns with Ben Roethlisberger under center will be the deciding factor. The Steelers have a record of 15-1 against Cleveland with Big Ben as their quarterback.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Browns 13