TNF Week 3- Browns/Steelers
Sept 22nd, 2022
Thursday Night Football Preview
Cleveland Browns Vs Pittsburgh Steelers 8:15 ET
Line: Browns -4, 38
This line opened with Cleveland as (-4.5) favourites but has been steadily moving lower and I am seeing some (-3.5) lines this morning. The total has also moved lower dropping a whole point to the key number of 38.
This game does not have the star-studded appeal previous TNF games offered, but this is a bitter rivalry and possibly the most important game of the season for each of these teams.
Last week’s Loses
Both of these teams had disappointing losses last week. Pittsburgh played a tight game for the second straight but this time fell short 17-14 at home to the Patriots. The Steelers struggled mightily to move the ball managing only a single touchdown on the final drive of the game. Another strong defensive performance by the Steeler’s defence was not enough to win the game for a second straight week.
But the Brown’s defeat was particularly disheartening because of the way they let that game get away. They had a two-touchdown lead with less than two minutes remaining and gifted the game to the Jets. Special team’s miscues and defensive lapses cost the Browns a 2-0 start to the season. The Brown’s ability to overcome last week’s collapse will be key to victory in this matchup.
Brown’s rushing attack
The Browns lead with an impressive rushing attack featuring the 1-2 punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The duo are an effective fastball/curveball combination that leaves defensive lines guessing. Chubb racked 228 yards in his first two games with an impressive 5.8 yards per carry. Hunt added 104 yards and 2 TDs of his own and is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.
Jacoby Brisset has been adequate as a starter for Cleveland after arriving from Miami in the off-season. He is not expected to win games on his own and has thus far managed not to lose a game for his team. His expectations will remain to complete a high percentage of short completions with hopefully no interceptions. An effective running attack should allow Brisset to continue to do exactly that.
Steeler’s QB situation
The Pittsburgh Steelers had some tough decisions to make in the offseason after the retirement of Ben Rothlisberger. They signed Mitch Trubisky who spent last season holding a clipboard for Josh Allen in Buffalo. The signing was viewed as a good temporary move but not a long-term solution for the franchise.
They then drafted Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall selection from the cross-town PITT Panthers as the top-rated QB in last year’s draft. This move was well received by most critics and the Steelers were considered lucky that Pickett was still available at the 20th spot in the draft.
Mitch Trubisky has not looked good through two games for the Steelers with a paltry 5.1 yards per attempt. With Trubisky’s early season struggles, the calls for Kenny Pickett to get his first NFL start have been loud and boisterous. His debut will wait at least one more week, but if Pittsburgh loses this game, you can expect to see him in week 4 against the Jets.
Steelers: TJ Watt is out after tearing a pectoral muscle in week 1 against the Bengals. Watt was the most dominant player on either side of the ball in that game and his absence leaves a giant hole in the defensive line for the Steelers.
Browns: Jadeveon Clowney has been ruled out of tonight’s game but Myles Garrett is expected to play through his neck injury suffered on Sunday. This pair of pass rushers are considered the best 1-2 punch in the NFL. Clowney will be missed tonight, but having a single knockout puncher in like Garret is still better than most teams can offer.
My Pick: Browns (-4)
The Browns are the better all-around team in this matchup and most of the statistics so far this season support that. I trust the Brown’s offence to move the ball much more so than the Steeler's right now.
The Browns have bad games every season where they lose games they simply shouldn’t. That was the case last week so hopefully, they got that out of their system already. If Cleveland wins this game, they will still be in a good position to start the season and I expect them to do so.
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