Browns vs. Steelers Predictions: Thursday Night Football Picks (Week 3)

Myles Garrett #95 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a sack in a 2021 home game.
Sep 26, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) celebrates a sack during the second half against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns and Steelers are both 1-1 entering tonight’s Thursday Night Football game. Each lost a close Week 2 contest. Although, Cleveland’s was a more shocking defeat after squandering a 13-point lead to the Jets with only one minute and 55 seconds remaining.

They’ll attempt to rebound at home tonight against the Mitchell Trubisky-led Steelers. Will the heartbreak of last week’s loss linger, or will they handle their business as home favorites? We’ll break down the game and give you the answer while providing our favorite bet for tonight’s primetime contest.

Browns vs. Steelers Predictions

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Browns vs. Steelers Odds

Steelers+4 (-105)+160O 38.5 (-110)
@ Browns-4 (-115)-190U 38.5 (-110)

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 8 pm ET on 9/21.

Game Info

  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 22
  • Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
  • Location: FirstEnergy Stadium
  • TV: Amazon

Browns vs. Steelers Trends

  • On Monday morning, the Browns opened as 3.5-point favorites, climbed as high as a 5.5-point favorite on Tuesday morning, and dipped back to a 4-point favorite on Wednesday.
  • The Steelers are 3-8-1 against the spread in their last 12 games after yielding more than 250 passing yards.
  • The Browns are 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 Thursday games.
  • The Browns are 1-11 ATS against AFC North opponents with Kevin Stefanski as a coach.

Cleveland’s Backfield Should Eat

The Browns have an exceptionally talented one-two punch in their backfield. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are top-shelf talents. As a result, Pro Football Focus (PFF) has graded Cleveland as the second-best rushing attack through two weeks.

Conversely, Football Outsiders ranks the Steelers 18th in rush defense Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) this season. So, the matchup is good for Chubb and Hunt. Additionally, the Steelers are unlikely to put Cleveland in a hole that forces them to abandon their bread and butter.

Pittsburgh’s Offense: Everything Is Difficult

Why am I confident the Steelers won’t put the Browns into a bad game script? Pittsburgh has scored two offensive touchdowns this year. Pitiful.

According to Pro-Football-Reference, the Steelers are 30th in yards per play (4.3). Further, they’re 28th in passing yards per game (172.0) and 26th in rushing yards per game (83.0), despite the benefit of overtime in Week 1.

Finally, the Steelers are 22nd in Weighted offensive DVOA, 20th in rushing DVOA, and 22nd in passing DVOA.

To sum it up: Pittsburgh’s offense is a tire fire inside a dumpster fire.

Steelers vs. Browns Predictions

The Steelers are a mess on offense, and Cleveland should be able to do whatever they want on the ground. Additionally, the Browns won’t have to contend with injured superstar edge rusher T.J. Watt when they have to pass.

Last week, the Steelers allowed 118 rushing yards on 24 attempts to New England’s running backs, Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. With all due respect to Harris and Stevenson, Chubb and Hunt are superior talents running behind a more imposing offensive line. Additionally, Pittsburgh didn’t sack Mac Jones on 38 dropbacks.

Pittsburgh’s inability to sack the opposing quarterback could allow Jacoby Brissett to stay hot. Surprisingly, Brissett had PFF’s fourth-highest passing grade in Week 2. He efficiently completed 22 of 27 passes for 229 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Brissett also took just one sack. So, he’s competent enough to guide the ship while Chubb and Hunt power the offense.

Finally, Cleveland’s defense should have their all-world edge rusher, Myles Garrett, for this week.

Garrett can be a one-man wrecking crew against Pittsburgh’s pop-gun offense. Add in Cleveland’s high probability of dominating on the ground, and I like their odds of covering the four-point spread.

Finally, the line has moved to 4.5 points at other sportsbooks, and I’m comfortable laying the points up to 5.5.

Pick: Browns -4 | -115 at DraftKings Sportsbook