Though the premise has an obvious answer, if Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett or Cleveland Browns QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is feeling more pressure today, the reality still matters. With a chance to create separation in the middle of the AFC North, Pickett and the Steelers need to be at their best today and put away the wounded Browns, still reeling from losing QB Deshaun Watson for the season.
On CBS Sports That Other Pregame Show this morning, the entire panel said Pickett is feeling more heat than Thompson-Robinson.
“He has to be undeniably the best quarterback on the field,” analyst Brock Vereen told the show. “They can only go as far as Kenny Pickett takes them…he needs to be without question a better quarterback.”
It’s debatable if the Steelers go as far as Pickett, at least for this game and the regular season at large, given the fact the team’s record is far better than its quarterback’s performance. Still, if Pickett struggles to separate himself from Thompson-Robinson, a rookie making his second start, it’ll be another concerning moment added to his list. Clearly, there’s more pressure on Pickett, the team’s hopeful franchise quarterback. If DTR struggles, he’ll just be another mid-round rookie in over his head. The entire four-person panel chose Pickett over Thompson-Robinson as the quarterback under more pressure in this game.
In fairness, Pickett is facing a tougher secondary and overall defense. Cleveland’s defensive backs group is one of the best in football with three excellent corners and solid safety play paired with a disruptive front seven. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t without talent or ability — the Steelers are tied for the league lead in takeaways — but has suffered several key defensive injuries (LBs Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander, S Minkah Fitzpatrick and Keanu Neal) with a secondary that is attackable.
If there’s a moment to make a statement game, it’s today. Beat an AFC North team on the road, move to 7-3, and send the Browns closer to the Bengals in a clear second tier of the division. With the Baltimore Ravens rolling along at 8-3, staying within range is critical for Pittsburgh. If they can do that, it’ll make their Week 18 rematch against the Ravens a potential winner-take-all-event, a game where there would be immense pressure on both quarterbacks that day to put their team over the top.