Steelers offense gets big boost with return and path to AFC North title clearer

Facing off against a NFL-best Cleveland Browns pass defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is getting some reinforcements ready for the big game.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't been playing the prettiest football this season, but they know when to close out a game and pick up wins when necessary. Entering Week 11, they are 6-3 on the year, sitting tied for second in the AFC North. In the past week, their path to the division title became less crowded, with Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and Cincinnati Bengals signal caller Joe Burrow both being ruled out for the rest of the season due to injuries.

On Sunday, the Steelers take on the Browns to see who will have sole possession of second and have a clearer path to catch up to the Baltimore Ravens for first place. Pittsburgh is set to get a boost on offense in Week 11.

The Steelers activated tight end Pat Freiermuth from the injured reserve, and he is expected to play on Sunday against the Browns, per ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter.

Pat Freiermuth activated off injured reserve, set to return for Steelers in Week 11

Freiermuth, their starting tight end, had been sidelined since Week 4 when he picked up a hamstring injury in Pittsburgh's game against the Houston Texans. This was supposed to be a short-term injury to recover from for the former 2021 second-round pick, but he aggravated it when trying to return in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams.

With Freiermuth out, the team relied upon Connor Heyward to fill in as the starter. On 169 passing play snaps, Heyward caught 17-of-25 targets for 137 yards, per Pro Football Focus. Rookie Darnell Washington sat behind Freiermuth and Heyward this season, logging 105 passing play snaps. On those snaps, Washington caught three of five targets for 23 yards.

In his four appearances this season, Friermuth caught 8-of-13 targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns.

The Steelers are set to face off against a league-best Browns pass defense that has allowed 151.1 passing yards per game this season. Having Freiermuth back in the lineup does help, but it will be up to how offensive coordinator Matt Canada schemes up plays, and how quarterback Kenny Pickett performs that will be pivotal in the team winning and improving to 7-3.

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