Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns kicks off this Sunday (11/19/23) at 1:00pm EST in Cleveland Ohio as a home game for the Browns. Get Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns predictions and best bets below as our best bet is on the Steelers moneyline against an injury riddled Browns unit.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Prediction & Best Bet
The Browns poor injury luck continues to derail this team as it was reported that Deshaun Watson has been ruled out the rest of the year with a season ending surgery. An unfortunate time for Watson to get knocked out as he started to show flashes of his former elite self as of late. The Browns injury report may need to take another page just to fill all the names, already featuring Nick Chubb, eight offensive lineman, and three cornerbacks.
With Watson ruled out and PJ Walker demoted to backup, that leaves rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson to take the reins as the starting quarterback. He brings a dual threat ability under center, being able to take off and pick up the distance to gain with his legs. The issue is that his starting stint could not come at a worse time as the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is one of the best units in football. Especially with the Browns offensive line decimated by injury, forcing DTR to run for his life in a continuously collapsing pocket.
His running ability may be negated for a majority of the contest as the Steelers defensive scheme is built to limit that sort of success. They blitz at one of the higher rates in the nation, sending their linebackers down the outside while their front four collapses the interior of the line. This takes away the outside lanes that DTR would bounce out to, forcing him to make a play up the crowded gut or make an ill-advised throw.
With the Browns most likely struggling to move the ball down the field, it will be up to the Steelers offense to put the game away. This has been a steadily improving unit, currently ranking 12th in Off DVOA. When Pickett is not under pressure against the best front four in football, he will be in a position to pick apart an injury riddled Browns secondary. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren may also find themselves with room to run, taking advantage of a Browns stretched out second level in an attempt to gain more coverage.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Prediction & Best Bet: Steelers ML
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Betting Odds
How much of an impact did Deshaun Watson have on the spread after being ruled out? The Pittsburgh Steelers opened as a +2.5 underdog, eventually flipping to a -1 favorite once Watson was ruled out. Bettors stopped the overreaction there, betting the Browns back to a -1 favorite in most shops as of writing.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a sluggish pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 38. Bettors believe that number has opened way too high, backing the under down to as low as 33 in some shops. That is a shocking low total, potentially giving value towards an over should it continue to drop as we near kickoff.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Key Injuries
While the Steelers remain fairly healthy, the Browns injury report page has turned into a book as numerous big names are listed as questionable heading into this contest.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Key Matchups
Can the Steelers shut down the rushing duo of Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt?
Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt Vs. Steelers Rush Defense
With the Browns starting rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, expect a more conservative game script as they will want to minimize the risk that comes with a rookie quarterback. That means more touches for their rushing duo of Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt, keeping the ball on the ground and limiting the number of turnover worthy plays to keep drives alive.
Jerome Ford, ladies and gentlemen.
— Alfredo Brown (@ThePretendGM) November 12, 2023
That bodes well for the Steelers defense as they excel at limiting opposing rushing production. As of writing, the Steelers rush defense ranks 12th in Def Rush Success Rate. That means they limit the distance gained on early downs, as well as stopping third down conversions and halting offensive progression. That forces the Browns into stalled out drives as well as farther distances to gain through the air on later downs, all playing towards the Steelers favor.