Thursday Night Football features an AFC North showdown as the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) travel to First Energy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns (3-6). Both of these two teams are still looking up at the Baltimore Ravens, but both would love nothing more than to beat a division rival to inch one step closer to a playoff berth. For the Steelers, they are still very much in the thick of it while the Browns may actually be fighting more for respect, but both teams will still be motivated to pick up a win. Kickoff for this one is scheduled for 8:20 pm ET.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, many wrote this team off when Ben Roethlisberger was injured for the year. Despite that, the team has battled and currently sits above .500 and hoping for a run at the playoffs. They have gotten back-to-back big wins over the Indianapolis Colts (26-24) and Los Angeles Rams (17-12). In fact, they have won four in a row and hope to keep rolling Thursday. They will be aided in the ground game as it appears running back James Conner is set to return after having to sit two weeks with an injury.
For the Cleveland Browns, they too got a big win last week defeating the Buffalo Bills 19-16. Despite that, their offense has still been a little suspect as of late as they have gone three straight games without breaking the 20-point barrier. They will hope to get it going against a surprisingly tough Pittsburgh defense.
The Cleveland Browns come into this as 3-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for points scored is set at just 41 points.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, neither of these teams have been especially dominant but it is the Steelers who come out ahead. Pittsburgh currently ranks 19th overall averaging 21.4 points per game (15.7 on the road). For the Browns, they come in 26th overall averaging just 19 points per game (18.2 at home).
On the defensive side, it is once again Pittsburgh who holds the advantage. They currently rank 10th in defensive scoring allowing just 20.1 points per game (24.7 on the road). For the Browns, they come in 21st overall allowing 24.6 points per game (27.8 at home).
Steelers Look To Increase Win Streak To 5
The Steelers and their fans are still holding out hope for a playoff spot and they have a great opportunity to move to a very respectable 6-4 after this week. To do so, they will once again turn to Mason Rudolph under center. Since taking over for Big Ben, Rudolph has gone 131 for 203 for 1,330 yards, 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He has also been sacked just 9 times this season.
The most consistent wide receiver for Rudolph this season has been JuJu Smith-Schuster. On the season, he has 36 catches for 503 yards and 3 touchdowns. While that is far from the Pro-Bowl production he has shown in the past, much of his down season is a result of not having Roethlisberger under center. James Conner has also had a nice season catching as he has 29 receptions for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns from the backfield.
Speaking of Conner, he has rushed 97 times for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns. Again, he has missed the last couple weeks with an injury, but should be good to go against the Browns and Mike Tomlin and company hopes that he can give the offense another shot in the arm.
Browns Looking For 2nd Straight Quality Win
The Browns seem to have the talent, now they are just trying to find the consistency on the field. One area in particular that consistency would be nice is from quarterback Baker Mayfield. On the season, Mayfield is 185 for 309 (59.87 passing %) for 2,201 yards, 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has also been sacked a whopping 25 times. He certainly has flashed his ability, now the Browns are just hoping he can find more consistency to his game.
On the receiving end, the leader for the Browns has been Jarvis Landry. On the season, Landry has 45 receptions for 652 yards and 2 touchdowns. While Landry is good, Browns’ fans have clamored to have Odell Beckham Jr. get the ball more. On the season he has just 44 catches for 632 yards and just one score.
On the ground, the Browns are led by Nick Chubb. Chubb this season has rushed 174 times for 919 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also has 27 receptions for an additional 166 yards.
Take Pittsburgh And The Points
Aside from this being a home game for Cleveland, all signs point to Pittsburgh in this one. They have surprisingly been rolling winning 4 in a row and they get the boost of getting James Conner back. Additionally, while they got a big win last week, Cleveland’s offense has been mediocre at best while Pittsburgh’s defense has been pretty darn solid. Granted, it is Thursday Night Football and the short weeks can oftentimes lead to odd things transpiring, but for my money, I am taking the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 3 points.