PITTSBURGH (3-3) in CLEVELAND (4-3) Sunday, at. 13.00 EDT, CBS OPENING LINE: Browns by 3 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
PITTSBURGH (3-3) at CLEVELAND (4-3)
Sunday at 13 EDT, CBS
OPENING LINE: Brown with 3 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Pittsburgh 2-4; Cleveland 4-3.
SERIES RECORD: The Steelers lead 77-61-1.
LAST MEETING: The Browns beat the Steelers 48-37 on January 10 in AFC wild-card games.
LAST WEEK: The Steelers said goodbye, beating the Seahawks 23-30, OT, on October 17; The Browns beat the Broncos 17-14.
STEELERS OFFENS: SAMLET (27), RUSH (29), PASS (15), SCORING (12).
STEELERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (12), RUSH (12), PASS (15), SCORING (12).
BROWNS OFFENS: OVERALL (9), RUSH (1), BASS (28), SCORE (17).
BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (3), PASS (7), SCORING (17).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Steelers minus-2; Brown minus-2.
STEELERS PLAYER TO SEE: RB Najee Harris. The first-round pick has seen his production steadily increase through his first six games as a pro, with 30 touchdowns for 127 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago against Seattle. The more efficient Harris is, the less the Steelers have to rely on 39-year-old QB Ben Roethlisberger to make things go.
BROWNS PLAYER TO SEE: RB D’Ernest Johnson. Joining the starting lineup last week, Johnson, who worked on a Florida fishing boat before getting his NFL shot, ran after a career-high 146 yards and a touchdown. Although star Nick Chubb returns after missing two games with a calf load, Johnson will get plenty of touches.
KEY MATCHUP: Steelers LB TJ Watt vs. Browns RT Jack Conklin. Assuming he starts, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield has an injured left shoulder to protect against Watt, who has seven sacks and needs to do even more than usual with Tyson Alualu (ankle) finished for the year and Stephon Tuitt (knee surgery) not back yet . Conklin missed the last two games with a knee injury.
KEY INJURIES: The Steelers are relatively healthy when it comes to their farewell week. RT Zach Banner is likely to be active for the first time since the opening of the 2020 season now that he is fully recovered from a torn ACL in his right knee. WR Chase Claypool (hoarding) and LB Melvin Ingram (groin) were limited in training this week but had to play. … Mayfield starts after being out last week due to swelling and limited range of motion. The rest helped, and coach Kevin Stefanski said that QB “functionally he is 100%.” … Chubb is also back, but Brown’s RB Kareem Hunt will miss two more games with a calf problem. … Brown’s CB Denzel Ward (hoarding) and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) are both out. … DEs Jadeveon Clowney (ankle, groin, knee) and Thank you McKinley (groin) and DT Malik Jackson (ankle) all missed time this week and are questionable.
SERIES NOTES: The Steelers have owned the Browns since 1999, 36-9-1. But Cleveland has won two of the last three, including last season’s playoff game. The Browns won the last three in a row in the 1988-89 series. … Brown’s coach Kevin Stefanski missed last season’s playoff game when he was quarantined at home after a positive COVID-19 test.
STATISTICS AND THINGS: Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a win shy of bringing Hall of Famer Bill Cowher to second place on the franchise’s all-time winning list. Cowher went 149-90-1 from 1992-2006. Tomlin is 148-81-1 since replacing Cowher in 2007.… Pittsburgh’s besieged running game finally wins out. The Steelers have gone over 100 yards in each of their last two games after doing so once in their previous 16.… Pittsburgh’s offensive line could get a boost with the Banners’ return, which would allow Chukwuma Okorafor to go back to the left tackling and replacing struggling rookie Dan Moore Jr. … Pittsburgh typically thrive in October under Tomlin and have played 10-2 since 2018.… The Steelers are still struggling with how to replace WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who lost for the season with a right shoulder injury sustained on October 10. Chase Claypool has been erratic in his second season and caught just two of seven goals against Seattle, while also being called offensive passing interference in the fourth quarter of a draw. … Pittsburgh’s defense is not up to its high standards and is struggling to generate revenue. The Steelers have just five takeaways through six games after producing 27 in 2020.… Roethlisberger, a native of Ohio, has thrived in his home state. Roethlisberger is 25-5-1 all-time Ohio, including 11-2-1 at Cleveland. However, he has not played at FirstEnergy Stadium since 2018. He was injured in 2019 and sat out in the regular season finale in 2020 with the AFC North title already secured. … Browns are slowly getting healthy after being beaten up for weeks. … This is Cleveland’s first AFC North game. Pittsburgh lost to Cincinnati last month. … Mayfield’s series of consecutive starts ended at 53 as he sat out against the Broncos. … QB Case Keenum was solid while filling in a week ago in his first start since 2019. He passed 199 yards, picked up a big first down with a run and did not turn the ball over. … Brown’s DE Myles Garrett leads the league with 9 1-2 sacks. He has five sacks in six career games against Pittsburgh. He beat the infamous Steelers QB Mason Rudolph’s with a curved helmet in a 2019 game and pulled a six-game league suspension. … Cleveland’s offensive line is completely intact for the first time since opening. … WR Odell Beckham Jr. has not had the effect that the Browns had hoped. He has been dealing with shoulder injuries since returning from knee surgery out of season. … Cleveland’s kickoff unit is ranked as the league’s best with 10 tackles within the 20 while keeping opponents at an average start on the 22-yard line.
FANTASY TIP: With Chubb expected back, Cleveland’s potent running game can thrive against Pittsburgh’s suspicious defensive front. With Hunt still on the sidelines, Chubb is likely to get opportunities within the 20 that would normally go to his teammate.
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