The Pittsburgh Steelers are riding a two-game win streak into Cleveland, where the Browns are mourning the loss of star quarterback Deshaun Watson for the remainder is the season, but are still dangerous enough to be favored thanks to a strong running game and defense.
KEY TO VICTORY: Possess the Ball
Both teams are going to want to run the ball. Both teams are going to want to stop the run. Whoever has more success will have a massive advantage in being able to dictate the terms of the way the game is played.
Unless that team also turns the ball over. Time of possession and yards won’t matter if mistakes mean giving the ball over.
OVERLOOKED MATCHUP: Browns DTs Shelby Harris & Dalvin Tomlinson vs. Steelers IOL
Steelers center Mason Cole had a tough start to the 2023 season, and a big part of that tough start was the entire interior of the Steelers offensive line getting wrecked in Week 2 against Cleveland.
The Steelers are feeling good about their running game after two straight weeks of racking up big totals against suspect front sevens. Now against one of the league’s best, they have a chance to prove the improvements are real.
BOLD PREDICTION: Pat Freiermuth shows himself
Remember Pat Freiermuth? The Steelers tight end? He hasn’t played since Week 4. And well, he didn’t do much this year when he did play. But he’s a good player and the Steelers are getting him back this week and in a game where both teams are going to be hyper-focus on stopping the run, play-action should work.
You want bold? Matt Canada breaks his tendency of not calling much play action, and dials up an over-the-middle ball to Freiermuth for a touchdown.
Steelers 13, Browns 9
Last week: Steelers 27-14 (W)
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Steelers +2.5 (-110)
Under 32.5 (-105)
Jaylen Warren longest rush over 13.5 (-125)
Last week: 3-0 (W Steelers -3, Over 38.5, Watt over 2.5 tackles)