Two teams coming into the game with serious question marks meet when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Cleveland Browns at 8:15 p.m. Thursday at First Energy Stadium.
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Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada has come under fire from the media and fans for his unimaginative play calling. It was on full display last Sunday in a 17-14 loss to the visiting New England Patriots.
Like the Steelers, the Browns have a 1-1 record. However, Cleveland’s loss last Sunday, also at home, was worse than that of the Steelers.
The New York Jets rallied for a 31-30 win by scoring 14 points over the final 1:55. The Browns gave up a 66-yard touchdown pass then failed to recover an onside kick in those final two minutes.
Here are the Steelers odds and lines vs. Browns at DraftKings
Spread: Browns -4.5 (-105), Steelers +4.5 (-115)
Moneyline: Browns -190, Steelers +160
Over/Under: 38.5 O (-110), U (-110)
Pittsburgh Steelers Preview
Perhaps some home cooking – or better play calling – will get new Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky cooking.
The Northeast Ohio native has completed just 42 of 71 passes for 59.2% in his first two games with the Steelers. He was signed to a two-year, $14-million free agent contract in the offseason.
Trubisky has just 362 passing yards two touchdowns and one interception. His average of 5.4 yards per attempt is 32nd in the NFL.
The Steelers also haven’t had a pass play longer than 32 yards. That brings into question why Canada and Trubisky haven’t gotten rookie wide receiver George Pickens more involved.
Drafted in the second round from Georgia, Pickens looked like a much-needed deep threat during the preseason. Yet he has just two receptions for 23 yards in the regular season.
The Browns’ defense might be the perfect matchup to set Pickens free. Cleveland has given up 254 yards passing on explosive plays already this season. Explosive plays are defined as any covering 20 or more yards.
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Behind the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns are second in the league in rushing.
Chubb is also second in that category individually with 228 yards and a league-high three touchdowns on 39 carries. Hunt has rushed 24 times for 104 yards and a score.
However, the Browns might try to take advantage of the Steelers being without star defensive end T.J. Watt, who will miss second straight game with a pectoral injury, and pass more. The Steelers were held without a sack by the Patriots.
Jacoby Brissett is serving as the Browns’ starting quarterback while Deshaun Watson serves an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The veteran has completed 65.6% of his 61 passes for 376 yards with two TDs and one pick.
Brissett seems to be building chemistry with veteran wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was acquired from the Dallas Cowboys in an offseason. Cooper had eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown last week after being limited to three receptions for 17 yards in the season-opening win over the Carolina Panthers.
Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction
Canada is feeling the heat, so look for him to give Trubisky more leeway to take shots down the field. Trubisky has admitted that he is underutilizing Pickens.
Meanwhile, the Steelers really miss Watt and that could make for a higher-scoring game than expected. However, the Steelers are 36-8-1 against Cleveland since the Browns’ rebirth in 1999. And coach Mike Tomlin has a 24-5-1 record versus the Browns.
It’s hard to buck those historical trends.
Steelers 26, Browns 21
Pittsburgh Steelers Bets We Like
Steelers +4.5 (-110)
Steelers +160 ML
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