CLEVELAND — Laying claim to a 4-1 record for the first time since the 1994 season, the Cleveland Browns will travel to Heinz Field on Sunday to face the 4-0 Pittsburgh Steelers.
What follows are three keys to victory for the Browns' Week 6 matchup:
Beat up Ben
Last season, the Browns were able to earn their first regular-season win over the Steelers since 2014, although they admittedly had some help.
With Ben Roethlisberger missing the bulk of Pittsburgh's season with an elbow injury, Cleveland was able to take advantage of backup Mason Rudolph, who struggled to replicate the success of the Steelers' future Hall of Fame starter.
This season, however, "Big Ben" is back and already appears to be in Pro Bowl form. If the Browns are going to earn what would be just their third win ever over Roethlisberger, their defense is going to have to get to him early and often -- a task that has been aided by an injury to Steelers All-Pro guard David DeCastro.
Emotions in check
Speaking of the Browns defense, Sunday marks a noteworthy matchup for Cleveland star defensive end Myles Garrett, who will be facing Pittsburgh for the first time since last year's brawl, which resulted in the No. 1 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft serving a season-ending suspension. For what it's worth, both Garrett and the Steelers said they have put the fight -- which saw Garrett hit Rudolph over the head with his helmet -- behind them, although there's no way of truly knowing until they get out on the field.
"We'll see when we play," Garrett said on Friday. "Their head coach said they're past it. We're past it as a team and just want to go out and play ball."
Considering that the matchup between the Browns and Steelers will serve as a rivalry game between two teams with one loss between them, it figures that emotions will be running high enough on Sunday. What Cleveland can't afford is for any bad blood to result in unnecessary penalties -- or worse, missed playing time for its best player.
While every NFL is dealing with injuries to some degree at this point in the season, the Browns appear to be especially banged up. Heading into Sunday's contest, quarterback Baker Mayfield (ribs), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (ribs/hip) and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (illness) have each been designated as "questionable," while guard Wyatt Teller (calf) and safeties Karl Joseph (hamstring) and Ronnie Harrison (concussion) have each been ruled out.
How the Browns perform on Sunday may not just come down to the availability of their key players, but also, how they're able to play through pain. Against a team as talented as the Steelers, it always helps to be playing with a full deck and right now, it looks like Cleveland might be a few cards short.