The Pittsburgh Steelers head to Ohio for the second time in three weeks, although they don’t have to go as far this time as they face the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Steelers and Browns have identical 1-1 records, and both teams are coming off narrow defeats in Week 2. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, with Amazon Prime streaming the game.
Pittsburgh entered a new era this season, following the retirement of Ben Rothlisberger, After earning a surprising (23-20) overtime victory over Super Bowl runner ups Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, the Steelers fell to the New England Patriots 17-13 on Sunday.
Cleveland was also looking to start a new era when they acquired DeShaun Watson to be their quarterback for the present and future, but, of course, he has been derailed by his suspension. The Browns are also come off two close games, winning at Carolina (26-24) in Week 1 before falling to the New York Jets (31-30) on Sunday.
Cleveland is favored by five points. Meanwhile, the money line has the Browns at -200 while the Steelers are +170. The over/under is set at Under 38.5.
Over 38.5 Points
I believe that the point total is too low. While neither the Steelers nor the Browns are offensive juggernauts, neither team’s defense is great either.
Pittsburgh has allowed 18.5 points (12th) a game through the first two contests, but that number does not measure the defense’s true defensive ability as they have been helped by creating several turnovers. Overall, the Steelers are 25th in total defense, permitting over 5.1 yards per play.
Moreover, the Steelers are bad against the run, which is something that the Browns love to do. And Pittsburgh’s defense struggles on third down,, and they allow their opponents to score on nearly 30% of their possessions.
Cleveland hasn’t been much better on defense. The Browns haven’t forced many turnovers, and they are allowing 27.5 points a contest. The Browns’ pass defense has struggled after the catch — allowing over 150 YAC a game — while also having difficulty getting off the field on third down and in the red zone.
Jacoby Brissett Over 198.5 Passing Yards
Brissett is an adequate veteran game-manager who won’t hurt his team while also being a capable contributor. Brissett is coming off a decent game against the Jets, completing 22 of 27 passes for 229 yards and one score. He has thrown for 199 or more yards in four of his last six starts over the previous two seasons.
Furthermore, Brissett will go against the league’s 30th worst pass defense. The Steelers allow opposing quarterbacks to complete 61.4% of their passes for 285 yards per game or 10.9 yards per completion. They permitted Mac Jones to throw for 252 yards on Sunday.
Nick Chubb Under 77.5 Rushing Yards
I believe the Steelers will try to make Cleveland beat them through the air, which is why I like the over on Brissett’s pass prop. Thus, I expect them to load the box. The Steelers are 26th in rushing defense, but they are permitting just 4.0 yards a carry. Bengals running back Joe Mixon did total 82 yards on the ground in Week 1 against them, but he needed 27 carries.
Chubb hasn’t had the greatest success against the Steelers over his career. He averages 66.1 rushing yards on the ground on 15 carries a game against Pittsburgh, as he has gone over 80 rushing yards in two of his six games against them.
Furthermore, with this being a short week and Chubb already registering 39 carries this season, I expect Kareem Hunt to see a bigger workload. Chubb averages 17 carries and 74 rushing yards per game in three Thursday night contests.
Amari Cooper Over 4.5 Receptions & Over 49.5 Receiving Yards
Donovan Peoples-Jones Over 2.5 Receptions
Chase Claypool Over 3.5 Receptions & Over 39.5 Yards
Diontae Johnson Over 5.5 Receptions
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