Jim Wexell, PFW's Steelers correspondent and the publisher of SteelCityInsider.net, took time out to answer five questions about Pittsburgh in advance of Sunday's Browns-Steelers game. Here's our questions and his answers:
1. What's the biggest challenge for QB Ben Roethlisberger to overcome upon his return to the lineup?
Wexell: Really, just his own nerves, and that shouldn't be difficult since his teammates readily accepted him back and the fans have convinced themselves that his transgressions are all media hype. Physically, Roethlisberger is in the best shape of his life. His only problem is the loss of Santonio Holmes.
2. What's been the key to the success of the running game in the first four games of this season?
Wexell: The fact that they worked on it in training camp, and then had to continue working on it without Roethlisberger. Physically, the addition of (C) Maurkice Pouncey has been huge. This guy should be in contention for Rookie of the Year, but of course that will go to the offensive player with the best stats.
3. The defense has been outstanding to this point. Who's been the MVP of the group?
Wexell: Lawrence Timmons has been incredible, both as a starting inside linebacker and special-teams assassin, and Troy Polamalu has made it clear that he's Dick LeBeau's most valuable chess piece, but I'm going to have to side with the ferocious James Harrison. When he's healthy and the officials are in the mood to call holding penalties, Harrison can't be stopped.
4. You're an experienced observer of this team. Did you see it winning three of four to start the season?
Wexell: It wasn't out of the realm of my thought process, but no, I expected them to go 2-2. That said, I didn't think Tampa Bay and Atlanta were as good as they are, so that 3-1 record is even more impressive.
5. Give us a predicted outcome for Sunday, with a final score.
Wexell: If Colt McCoy's dad lets him play the second half, the Browns might score a touchdown at mop-up time. Seriously, and with my great admiration for the Csonka-like abilities of Peyton Hillis, the Steelers will stop that running game and should have little trouble covering the Browns' wide receivers. Return man Josh Cribbs is the only threat. Steelers, 31-7.
Jim Wexell has written three books on the Steelers: "Steeler Nation," "Men of Steel" and "Tales from Behind the Steel Curtain." He can be followed on Twitter @jimwexell.