Week 3 opens up this Thursday night with the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Cleveland to take on the Browns. They each have stumbled out of the gate thus far, with both teams 1-1 to start the season. Pittsburgh’s lone victory was an overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals where neither team appeared to want the win, whilst Cleveland’s win came over a lowly Carolina Panthers team. Due to uncertainty around both teams there has been a lot of movement in the betting market with the Browns opening as a 3-point favorite, then peaking at -5.5 points and now settling at 4.5 points on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Steelers @ Browns (-4.5) - Over/under 38 points.
Steelers - The Steelers offense has been rather anemic this season. The team’s starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has averaged 181 passing yards a game to go along with a passer rating of 76.1 and a completion percentage of 59.2 percent. Their star running back Najee Harris is only averaging 2.9 yards per carry to go along with 43 receiving yards on 7 catches. Their defense, down T.J. Watt for the next several weeks, has been about average although they have the eighth-worst hurry and pressure rate in the league. After sacking Joe Burrow seven times on opening day, they managed no sacks against the Patriots. Pittsburgh’s run defense has been their best unit through two games, averaging 4 yards per carry against which is tied for 10th in the league.
Browns - Cleveland has had one of the better offenses in the league to start the season. Through two games Jacoby Brissett has been a league average quarterback with a middling passer rating of 85.9. New recruit Amari Cooper is coming off of a game against the Jets where he went for 101 yards with a touchdown on 9 catches. Despite Cooper’s breakout though the Browns make their money in the running game, boasting one of the best backfield duos in the league with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The duo has combined for 332 yards on 63 carries, which is good for 5.26 yards per carry. As a whole the Browns average of 5.3 yards per carry is good for the fourth best total in the league thus far. Chubb is coming off three touchdowns against the New York Jets.
Browns - Star edge rusher Myles Garrett missed Tuesday’s practice with a neck injury and his status is up in the air. Jadeveon Clowney has an ankle injury which has resulted in him already being ruled out for this week’s game. Left guard Joel Bitonio is also a question mark to play as he missed Tuesday’s practice with a knee injury.
Steelers - Last season’s DPOY, T.J. Watt is out with a torn pec muscle that will likely keep him out for at least the next five weeks.
Prediction - Browns (-4.5) - Under 38 points
With how inept the Steelers offense has been to this point paired with how well the Browns can run the ball this will likely turn into a game where the Browns are dominating the time of possession despite injuries to multiple key players. The Browns run-heavy approach along with the Steelers difficulties both moving the ball and scoring makes me choose the under as well.
(All advanced stats provided by Pro Football Reference)
Here’s the Field Gulls staff’s picks for tonight’s game,