It’s only week two, but it’s already time for a primetime edition of one of the league’s best rivalries. It’s the Browns and the Steelers, and coming off of drastically different season-opening performances, it’s hard to know what we’re going to get from this one but as always, it should be entertaining. Let’s try and find some value in the madness by zoning in on franchise centerpieces like Nick Chubb and Kenny Pickett as we pick some Cleveland Browns Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Player Props.
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Cleveland Browns Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Prop Picks
The Browns showed in week one that they can run the ball as well as anyone in the NFL, and their defense had an impressive showing as well. The Steelers need to show that there’s anything they can do well after an opening day home blowout loss, so let’s take a look at some individuals who have something to prove.
Nick Chubb o79.5 Rushing Yards (-115 BetMGM), Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+100)
One of the most impressive but least surprising aspects of the Browns’ dominant week one showing was their running game. Deshaun Watson ran well but of course, the centerpiece of the rushing attack is Nick Chubb, perhaps the best pure, between-the-tackles rusher in the NFL, with all due respect specifically to Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey. With Kareem Hunt out of the picture, Chubb has no handcuff to steal his carries, and 100 yards won’t come every single week, but it should absolutely be the expectation the way this offense is designed. The main issue here is Jack Conklin’s season-ending ACL tear, but with high-upside tackle duo Jedrick Wills and Dawand Jones, they should be able to keep afloat.
Perhaps even more relevantly for Chubb’s hard-nosed interior rushing approach, All-Pro guard duo Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller is probably the best in the business. Even if the Browns o-line doesn’t do as much for him as usual, Chubb is a force in his own right, as he averaged around 3.5 yards per carry after contact a season ago, sixth-best amongst rushers with over 150 carries. As this is an AFC North game, we can expect an absolute grinder of a game with a heavy dose of the run, and for this Cleveland team, that means their workhorse back Chubb getting a plethora of touches, especially near the end zone.
They’re going up against a Steelers defense that had a terrible week one defending the run. Of course, that was against Christian McCaffrey and Kyle Shanahan’s stellar 49ers team, but that offensive line is arguably less elite than Cleveland’s in the run game, and the tackling performance was ugly. McCaffrey averaged nearly six after-contact yards per carry, and while he is incredibly special, Chubb isn’t too far behind, so there’s little reason to believe that this team can stop or even slow him. Toss in a game script that I expect to include the Browns protecting a solid lead, and Chubb could be in for an absolute banner game.
Kenny Pickett Longest Completion u33.5 Yards (-110 BetMGM)
There are some people who are really high on Kenny Pickett as a starter in this league; I am not a member of this group. He didn’t do much to change that opinion in week one, as he was a mess in the embarrassing loss to the Niners. PFF gave him a passing grade of 53.4, the 22nd best total of the 32 highest-volume passers of the week, as he made two turnover-worthy throws and no big time ones. His offensive line also had an extremely rough day, with three starters earning an almost-impossible PFF pass blocking grade below 30, with guard James Daniels checking in at just 20.9.
That didn’t fly against the 49ers, and it certainly won’t against the Browns, who have one of the most fearsome defensive fronts in the NFL. Myles Garrett is one of the very best edge rushers in the NFL, as he’s coming off a second consecutive 16-sack season, and he’s paired with another excellent talent in Za’Darius Smith. Pickett isn’t going to have the time to drop back and let his receivers get deep, and even if he did, it’s hard to imagine them making much headway.
They’re going up against a Browns secondary that limited the superstar wideout duo of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in week one to the point that Higgins did not register a single catch on eight targets. Safety Grant Delpit had an outstanding opener as did cornerback Greg Newsome II, and Denzel Ward is a major bounce-back candidate at the other corner spot. Pickett may need to throw the ball a bunch in a game where his Steelers should be behind, but it’s hard to envision it going well for the second-year pro.
Chris Boswell o1.5 Field Goals Made (+115)
Of course, we’re going to grab at least one defensive or special teams player prop, and this time the lucky winner is Chris Boswell, the Steelers’ kicker. Last season, Pittsburgh was 22nd in the league in finishing red zone drives with a touchdown, and it’s hard to imagine them being any more successful against this Browns team.
Scoring in the red zone means winning at the line of scrimmage, and as we’ve already discussed, that is not going to happen this week for a Steelers o-line that ranked 32nd in pass blocking and 24th in run blocking as per PFF’s week one grades. If Pittsburgh can move the ball, which they have a chance to do by throwing the ball quickly and working underneath Cleveland’s secondary, their drives will stall, giving Boswell, who is very reliable from short to medium range, plenty of chances to finish the drive with three points.