Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Matchup Preview (10/18/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Matchup Preview (10/18/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
The NFC West always gets talked about as the best division in football, but the AFC North may be right on its heels in terms of overall team quality. The Steelers (4-0), Ravens (4-1), and Browns (4-1) are all right in the thick of the race for the division title and this game could have a huge impact on that push long-term for one of these two teams. The Browns have historically performed poorly against the Steelers but they finally earned their first win over their division title last year after an 8-game winless run for Cleveland. Pittsburgh did take the other game between the two teams, a memorable game for the late-game altercation between Mason Rudolph and Myles Garrett that included a swinging helmet, fines, and suspensions. I’m expecting things to be heated between these two teams, especially given the run of momentum both have had. Since a 32-point Week 1 loss to the Ravens, the Browns have been on a 4-game winning streak that includes 9+ point wins against the Cowboys and Colts. The Steelers, meanwhile, have a +31 scoring differential through four games, the fifth-best mark in the NFL. There should be plenty of fireworks in one of the highlight matchups of the week, and there’s plenty to break down for both of these teams. For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Matchup Page.
Date: Sunday, October 18th, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh PA
TV Coverage: CBS
Browns vs. Steelers Live Stream
Where can you watch Browns vs. Steelers online? You can stream this game and many other NFL games live online with Hulu. Hulu has a 7 Day free trial and is cheaper than cable options at $5.99/month. Watch Browns vs. Steelers Free Online Now.
Pittsburgh Steelers: D. Johnson (back) Q, D. DeCastro (abs) Q, Zach Banner (IR), S. Wisnewski (chest) IR
Cleveland Browns: B. Mayfield (chest) Q, O. Beckham (illness) Q, J. Tretter (knee) Q, L. Ogunjobi (abs) Q, K. Hunt (thigh) Q, J. Landry (ribs) Q, T. Davis (elbow) Q, K. Joseph (hamstring) Q, R. Harrison (head) Q, O. Vernon (groin) Q, J. Phillips (knee) Q, W. Teller (calf) Q, G. Williams (shoulder) IR, K. Hodge (hamstring) IR, N. Chubb (MCL) IR, J. Natson (ACL) IR, C. Weaver (foot) IR, T. Young (undisclosed) IR, G. Obinna (triceps) IR, G. Delpit (Achilles) IR
Cleveland Browns Analysis
Last season, the Browns finished outside the top-20 in both points scored and points allowed as their coaching situation under Freddie Kitchens was never consistent enough to succeed. This year, Kevin Stefanski has transformed their offense and the Browns are the fourth-highest scoring offense in the NFL. Against a Colts defense that has allowed the fewest offensive yards in the NFL, the Browns’ offense was still very productive on their way to 385 yards of offense and 32 points. The Browns’ turnover differential of +6 ties them for the second-best in the NFL and their wild number of 12 takeaways leads the NFL. That likely won’t continue against an efficient Steelers’ offense that has given the ball away just four times all year.
While the Browns’ offense has improved significantly over last year, Baker Mayfield is still not producing. He hasn’t surpassed 250 passing yards once all year and is completing just 62.4% of his passes with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. While Mayfield does have the 8th-best QBR in the NFL, that’s a misleading stat and he ranks 24th in both DVOA and DYAR per Football Outsiders. Luckily for the Browns, they haven’t needed to lean on Mayfield’s arm to move the chains as their rushing offense has been excellent, whether it’s been Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt. The Steelers have allowed the 2nd-fewest rushing yards in the NFL so far, so Mayfield is going to need to step up in this matchup if the Browns’ offense is going to do enough to win this game.
The Browns’ rushing offense has been elite as they have the most rushing yards and the fourth-most rushing touchdowns so far. Nick Chubb rushed for 335 yards and 4 touchdowns in 4 games prior to his injury and had an absurd 5.9 YPC rate. Kareem Hunt has since taken over as the lead back and has 347 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing at 5.0 YPC. The Browns’ offensive line has been one of the best in the NFL so far and is the #1 run-blocking unit per Football Outsiders. The free agency acquisition of Jack Conklin has been massive while their interior play has been the best in the NFL with Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, and Wyatt Teller. Rookie tackle Jedrick Wills is slowly coming into his own as well.
In spite of limited production from Baker Mayfield, some of the high-level skill players on this team have had great games along the way. Odell Beckham Jr. has 21 catches for 294 yards and 3 touchdowns while Jarvis Landry has 21 catches for 279 yards. OBJ also has a 50-yard rushing touchdown that ended up being the game-clinching play a couple of weeks ago against the Cowboys. Austin Hooper is starting to get more involved in this offense and has 7+ targets and 5 catches in each of the past two games. Outside of those three players, there haven’t been many consistent receivers on this team, but Kareem Hunt does have 11 catches for 63 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Steelers’ defense has been great, but their secondary play hasn’t quite been there as they’re middle-of-the-pack in most metrics and should be beatable for Cleveland.
The big area of concern for the Browns so far is their defense as they’re allowing the eighth-most points per game in the NFL. Their secondary has been ravaged by injuries and they’re allowing the third-most passing yards per game. That’s a recipe for disaster against a Steelers’ pass-catching group that is one of the deepest and most talented in the NFL. Greedy Williams, Karl Joseph, and Ronnie Harrison all questionable this week, the secondary is in a precarious position. Additionally, Larry Ogunjobi’s and Olivier Vernon’s questionable statuses put their defensive line in a dangerous spot as well. Even without factoring in all of these injuries, the Browns rank as the 17th-best defense on Football Outsiders, 19th in pass defense and 11th in run defense, both below where the Steelers rank.
Cleveland Browns Depth Chart
Pittsburgh Steelers Analysis
Last season, we saw a Steelers squad with a dominant defense (5th in points allowed) but an inconsistent offense (27th in points scored) that held them back all year on their way to an 8-8 record. This year, the offense has improved considerably (10th in points scored) while the defense has remained elite (6th in points allowed). The Steelers have played very efficient football and have a +3 turnover differential as well which ties them with a few teams at the 7th-best in the NFL. Their offense and defense were both firing on all cylinders last week on their way to a 9-point win over the Eagles and they’ll likely present the toughest team the Browns have faced all year.
Ben Roethlisberger’s return has been the key to the Steelers’ success this season and he’s turning in a very efficient season with 1,016 passing yards on a 69.9% completion rate (9th-best) with 10 touchdowns and just one interception. Football Outsiders has Roethlisberger ranked 9th in DVOA and 14th in DYAR. The key to the Steelers winning games is to get the ball into the hands of their many playmakers to keep the chains moving and keep their elite defense fresh, and this recipe has led to a 4-0 record so far. Roethlisberger may not be the sexiest fantasy option right now, but he’s done exactly what has team has needed him to and is absolutely a crucial ingredient of them winning games.
The Steelers have not had nearly the same level of rushing success as the Browns this season although James Conner has played very well and has 55 carries for 268 yards and 4 touchdowns through four games. The Steelers are averaging 138.8 yards per game on the ground, 8th in the NFL, but still far off from Cleveland’s league-leading 188.4 rushing yards per game. The Steelers’ offensive line has been decent but unspectacular in run-blocking as Football Outsiders has them as the 20th-best run-blocking O-line in the NFL. Their pass-blocking has been much better, though, as FO’s 3rd-best line in that category. With injuries to David DeCastro and Markuice Pouncey, however, the Steelers could be rolling out a couple of inexperienced guys this week.
Pittsburgh’s ability to consistently draft great wide receivers is a wild part of their franchise’s continued success. Rookie Chase Claypool broke through in a massive way with 7 catches for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns and added another 3 carries for 6 yards and a touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster has 21 catches for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns this season while Diontae Johnson and James Washington have seen stretches of productivity as well. Tight end Eric Ebron and running back James Conner have been very involved in the passing game as well. The depth and quality of the Steelers’ skill position players far outpaces that of the Browns’, especially with their recent injuries.
The Steelers’ defense was one of the league’s best last season and they’ve picked up right where they left off as the #6 scoring defense in the NFL this season. The Steelers have also allowed the fewest yards per game on the back of a lethal run defense that has surrendered just 3.3 YPC, the second-best mark in the NFL. The front seven is stacked with elite players in T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Bud Dupree, and Tyson Alalu. The Browns have only surrendered 7 sacks this season, tied for the sixth-fewest in the NFL, but if the run game isn’t functioning well against the Steelers, Baker Mayfield will have to step up and make plays. Luckily, the Steelers have been beatable through the air far more than on the ground – Pittsburgh has the 7th-best defense per Football Outsiders and the best run defense, but just the 17th-best pass defense (all in DVOA). Mayfield has yet to throw for over 250 yards in a game this season, but he’ll likely need to do that this week if the Browns are going to pull off a win.
Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart
Spread: Steelers -4, Browns +4
Moneyline: Steelers -215, Browns +170
Over/Under: 50.5 points
The line movement for this game has been very interesting to watch as it opened with the Steelers as 3-point favorites but has quickly moved in Pittsburgh’s direction with them up to 4.5 or 5-point favorites in some books. I would jump on the Steelers while you still have the chance as I’m picking them to win this game and cover the spread. They have a ton of receiving talent to exploit the Browns’ weak secondary and I don’t expect Cleveland’s turnover luck to continue into this game. Pittsburgh also has a defense that can take away the run game and short-area offense, forcing Baker Mayfield to throw downfield, something he hasn’t done well this season. The Browns are facing an injury report with tons of players listed as questionable and with Mayfield and OBJ both dealing with illnesses, I’m not confident in the Cleveland offense this week. I’d bet the Steelers up to 5.5 points this week and they’ll likely end up being one of my most-used parlay teams. The points total has gone over Vegas’s line in four of five Browns games and three of four Steelers games, and I trust these offenses to be able to move the ball. I can envision the Steelers winning this game something like 30-24.
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Daily Fantasy Picks
The Steelers’ quarterback has gotten right back to playing high-level football as he’s thrown for 2+ touchdowns in every game and is on pace for a 40-touchdown season. With so many high-level skill players in this offense, Roethlisberger’s fantasy upside is greater than I ever imagined it would be before the season. Big Ben is a strong play this week against the Browns who have given up the 8th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
The Browns have consistently been burned in pass coverage this season, but they’ve especially struggled to defend slot receivers. You may not be thrilled JuJu so far this season as he has yet to surpass 70 receiving yards in a game, but he has the most advantageous of matchups for the Steelers’ pass-catchers this week. I’m calling for JuJu’s first 100-yard game of the season this week in a breakout performance.
The Browns have played 2-wide sets more than most teams in the NFL and Higgins only has four catches this season as the WR3 on the team. However, Higgins has had big games in the past and the veteran wideout could be stepping into a bigger role this week if OBJ or Jarvis Landry (both questionable) are unable to play. If one or both don’t go, Higgins will immediately become my favorite minimum DFS play.
Since Nick Chubb’s injury, Kareem Hunt has become the lead back for the Browns and he had a monstrous 51 snaps and 23 touches last week. Hunt is a phenomenal talent and the only reason he’s viewed differently than a guy like Alvin Kamara or Austin Ekeler is his checkered past that led to his release from the Chiefs. None of that matters for fantasy football now though, and Hunt’s phenomenal talent plus high volume equals fantasy gold, even in a matchup against a tough Steelers defense. Hunt’s involvement in the passing game gives him a worthwhile floor for DFS every week.