The Steelers and Browns have followed similar paths to their Week 3 meeting. Both escaped with a game-winning field goal in Week 1, and both suffered close losses this past weekend. With these two teams even at 1-1, Cleveland is looking for a do-over after a rough finish to their home opener, while the Steelers will try to jumpstart their offense on the road.
Let’s make predictions, dive into the depth charts, and examine the odds ahead of Thursday night’s primetime matchup in Cleveland.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Betting Odds
The Browns enter as 5-point home favorites and sit at -210 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 38.5 points.
The Browns will have to get used to playing close games until Deshaun Watson returns. In fact, their point differential this season is just +1. The line has moved from Browns -3 to Browns -5, which is a big jump. Pittsburgh may be a better value considering the Browns winning by 3-4 points isn’t a stretch at all.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Prediction
The Steelers didn’t impress at home in Week 2. Their offense was uninspiring with Mitchell Trubisky at the helm, and while the defense wasn’t gashed by the Patriots, it did allow 376 total yards to a unit that looked out of sorts in a Week 1 loss to the Dolphins.
The loss of T.J. Watt was felt against New England – a Steelers team that typically stays near the top of the league in sacks never took down Mac Jones. Even so, you’d have to think this defense will show up in an AFC North game.
Will the Browns’ defense show up? The secondary has faltered late in each of the team’s first two games, and letting Joe Flacco look like a legitimate starting quarterback on Sunday is a major red flag. The pass-rush should give Trubisky a hard time, but the rest of the defense has to be better. The good news: it doesn’t take much to quiet the Steelers’ offense.
If Nick Chubb can stay hot and Jacoby Brissett can play as well as he did against the Jets, the Browns should be able to score enough to pull out a win. Like any AFC North game, those points probably won’t come easily. I expect a tight game and would give the Browns advantage, but not enough of an advantage to take Cleveland and the points.
- The Steelers are 4-0 ATS in their last four games vs. AFC North opponents. This is a key trend. Pittsburgh thrives in hard-nosed, AFC North-style games. Even without T.J. Watt, that’s something to keep in mind.
- The under is 4-1 in the Steelers’ last five games. If the Browns’ defense can fix its late-game issues, this has a great chance to be a low-scoring affair.
- The Browns are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games. It’s tough to gauge the Browns considering how many close games they play, but they’ve leaned more toward disappointment since last season.
Pittsburgh Steelers Injuries: Reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt remains out with a pectoral injury. Linebacker Devin Bush exited Sunday’s game with a foot injury and was listed as limited on Monday’s practice report.
Cleveland Browns Injuries: Cornerback Greedy Williams is out after he was placed on IR with a hamstring injury. Left tackle Jack Conklin missed the first two games of the season as he works his way back from a 2021 knee injury, but he hasn’t been ruled out. Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney will miss Thursday’s game with a foot injury. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett injured his ankle in Sunday’s loss to the Jets but returned to the game and is set to start Thursday.
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Steelers vs. Browns below.
Nick Chubb vs. Steelers Run Defense
The Steelers’ run defense was a massive weak spot in 2021, but it’s been a mixed bag so far this season. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson averaged 4.9 yards/carry on Sunday, after Pittsburgh did a fine job keeping Joe Mixon in check in Week 1. Obviously, stopping the Browns’ vaunted rushing attack will be the biggest key to a win on Thursday.
Chubb already has 228 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground this season. Kareem Hunt is a factor too – he received 13 carries in the loss to the Jets – but Chubb is the heart of the offense for the time being. Until we see more proof that the Steelers’ run defense has moved past its 2021 struggles, the outlook for Chubb and the Browns’ running game is strong.
Steelers Offensive Line vs. Browns Pass Rush
A leaky offensive line was as much of a problem as Ben Roethlisberger’s age was for the Steelers last season. The unit has taken steps to get better, but Trubisky did take three sacks against the Patriots on Sunday.
Any offensive line has to be concerned by Myles Garrett and coming off the edge, though Pittsburgh will catch a break with Jadeveon Clowney’s absence on Thursday after he forced a Flacco fumble over the weekend. Garrett had a great Week 1 performance against Carolina. Trubisky is already limited as it is. If the Browns harass him all night, the Steelers’ offense is going nowhere. With Clowney out, however, there’s a chance to keep Garrett in check.