Steelers clinch W in shootout against Browns
Week 6 of the NFL kicks off with an AFC North divisional showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. Both teams claimed respectable victories over their opponents last week and are ready for another hard-hitting physical performance against their rivals. The Steelers and Big Ben sit atop of the AFC North with a 4-0 record, can the Browns at 4-1 steal the crown, or will the Steelers remain kings of the North? You know what time it is, the breakdown shakedown!
Odds: PIT -3.5, CLE + 3.5
Over/Under: Over 50
Kickoff: October 18th, 1:00 p.m. EST, Heinz Field
The Browns will look to pull off a feat that has not occurred since 2003, securing a W at Heinz Field over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cleveland squad heads to Pittsburgh with some key injuries to report though. Offensive Guard Wyatt Teller, Safety Ronnie Harrison, Running Back Nick Chubb, and Safety Karl Joseph remain sidelined for this divisional clash. The bright spot, Browns QB Baker Mayfield and Wide Receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were recently upgraded to probable. These three players have been dynamite together to form the ultimate offensive threat for opposing teams to attempt to decipher.
Offensively, the Browns rank 4th in the league for total points scored and 1st for rushing yards. The passing attack from Mayfield mainly connects with Jarvis Landry who has 279 yards on the season and OBJ who has 294 yards. The Browns will look to pick apart a dismal Pittsburgh secondary who continues to struggle with the deep threat from opposing teams. Also, look for Mayfield to try and incorporate TE Austin Hooper who is on the field nearly 98% of the time with his start QB. As for the run-game, with Nick Chubb on IR, Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson will face a 2nd ranked Pittsburgh run defense.
Defensively, the Browns will need to shut down the incredible and veteran playmaking abilities of Steelers QB Big Ben Roethlisberger. Not to mention the deep threat capabilities of rookie sensation Chase Claypool and speedy Juju Smith-Schuster. As for protecting the run, look for the 3rd ranked run defense to keep James Conner and Ray-Ray McCloud under a combined 125 yards.
The Steelers are ready for a bloodbath against their divisional foe Browns team. This season is different from their last matchup though as they have their star QB Big Ben back at the helm. Rookie Chase Claypool had his statement game last weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles with 4 touchdowns on the day. Can the rookie continue his stellar season against a division rival Browns defense? Also, the Steelers D remains a top threat for any opponent as they currently have 20 sacks on the season and 6 interceptions to date.
Offensively, the Steelers rank 10th overall for total points scored, 18th for passing yards, and 7th for rushing yards. Though these rankings are not astounding or game-changing, the offense has played dynamite over four weeks of play. With shared contributions through the air from Juju Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Eric Ebron, and James Washington, the offense remains healthy and versatile. Though Diontae Johnson will be sidelined for this game, expect to see him next week to face the Titans. On the ground, the contributions continue with James Conner, Benny Snell Jr. and Ray-Ray McCloud all sharing the rock on pivotal short stick situations. How about a healthy Derek Watt coming back? Will Mike Tomlin incorporate some Fullback action against the Browns this Sunday?
Defensively, the big playmakers of T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Cameron Heyward, and Stephon Tuitt will have the tall task of containing swift and speedy Mayfield in the backfield. Along with that assignment, watch out for the trick plays of OBJ and Landry who put on a show the past two weeks with their mastermind offensive plays. As for the ground-game, the Steelers have Kareem Hunt to shut down, which I see them holding Hunt to under 100 yards on the ground as they have with previous powerful backs over the weeks. The deep threat is the most concerning for the Steel D as Mike Hilton, Steven Nelson, and Minkah Fitzpatrick have struggled in that area.
ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this matchup will hit over 50 points. As the AFC North continues to turn heads in the league and prove that they are to be reckoned with, the Steelers and Browns await who comes out victorious on Sunday afternoon. Will Big Ben continue his dominance at Heinz Field against the Browns, or will Cleveland make a statement in Pittsburgh that they are top dogs? I sense a shootout with Big Ben throwing for over 400 yards and Mayfield racking up 300 yards. The game changer though will be the Steelers D picking off Mayfield twice to ultimately seal a Steelers victory. Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Cleveland Browns 28. Football fans, its AFC North divisional time, are you ready?