Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland Week 3 Pick ATS
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1 SU, 1-0-1 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
Week 3 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday Night Football, September 22, 2022 at 8:15PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Prime Video
Point Spread: PIT +4.5/CLE -4.5 (Bovada – Their live betting platform is amazing! Not confusing/slow/clunky like the rest! Plus, they give you a 50% bonus!)
Over/Under Total: 38.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers come to FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns in an AFC North battle on Thursday Night Football. Both teams come off the short week, a fact that is dulled a bit with it being so early in the season and players still relatively fresh. Still, it’s a challenging spot for both teams, each facing their own share of issues after splitting their first two games. Pittsburgh was in a bit of a stinker with the Patriots on Sunday, losing an imminently forgettable 17-14 affair at home. Cleveland, meanwhile, had an even more-painful experience against an AFC East squad, dumping a 31-30 game to the Jets, where they completely melted in the end. Who can rebound on the short turnaround and get back on the right track on Thursday Night Football?
Browns in the Dumps?
Not that the Steelers are flying high after their dud on Sunday against a Pats team that looked awful to open the season. But for the Browns to see Nick Chubb go in for his third TD to make it 30-17 with under two minutes left in the game, you have to be able to get the “W.” When it’s at home, and you’re playing the Jets, it’s an absolute killer to blow that game. Suddenly, retread Joe Flacco was slinging the ball around with the Jets looking like the 1999 Rams. They got a pretty good game from QB Jacoby Brissett, with Chubb having a big game and Amari Cooper going over 100 yards and a TD. And for their defense to just roll over like that and let the Jets take control late with two TD drives in less than two minutes is a bitter pill to swallow and makes it hard to turn around quick for this matchup.
Perhaps the Browns luck out a little bit in this spot facing a Steelers’ offense that is less than effervescent. At least they’re not going against a team that figures to bounce them out of the stadium, and they do get this one at home. If they can take what they did well and cut out whatever it is that made them blow a big lead late, they should be OK in this spot. The Steelers’ offense doesn’t figure to really lay it on thick with the Browns’ defense, and Cleveland should be able to run the ball against a Steelers’ run defense that might be a little better but is still pretty exploitable. With Chubb and Kareem Hunt lying in wait, that looks to be a big part of the Browns’ offensive approach this week.
Issues with the Steelers
It’s not easy to get a read on the Steelers. That especially applies to offense. You see a nice collection of talent at the skill positions—RB Najee Harris, receivers Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool, and a nice TE in Pat Freiermuth. People see that collection of talent, and it’s not hard to picture them creating some production with that group. But this version of the Steelers is going to be crippled with substandard QB play, as Mitchell Trubisky isn’t going to cut it every week. What really keeps this offense from taking off is an offensive line that, more often than not, will not do its share of the heavy lifting. For everything they do well, there’s a part of the team that just completely undermines it.
With TJ Watt out of action, the Steelers lost one of their few precious gems in the trenches. That defensive line can be a real liability, especially when taking on the two-pronged Browns’ rushing attack. Cleveland, meanwhile, has some real difference-makers on that defensive front. Combine that with one of the best offensive lines in the league, and you can start to see how the Browns can be dangerous against a lot of teams, despite some major liabilities—a quarterback that fails to elicit excitement in Brissett and a receiving crew that looks pretty so-so on paper. For the Steelers to be stricken with poor QB play, along with being weak along both lines of scrimmage, makes it hard to really be optimistic not only for the season but this particular matchup.
Any Hope for the Steelers?
Of course there is. We just saw an imperfect Browns’ squad fall to the lowly Jets at home. So it’s all relative. In their own division, the Steelers are squarely in their element, even if they are on the road in this spot. Maybe Pittsburgh takes what they saw late in the Browns’ game against the Jets and tries to replicate some of that aerial production. Getting much production aerially out of Trubisky hasn’t been easy in his career for the most part, but if the Jets could do it, maybe Trubisky can get some things done with what is, in fact, a pretty decent pass-catching corps. Or will the Steelers try to slow this game down, rely on the run, and stink it out and get the win?
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Take the Points
The Steelers will be in big trouble this season against the better teams they face. But they did beat the Bengals by a FG in week one before losing by the same margin last Sunday to the Patriots. It’s not hard to picture some close games like this from the Steelers in games where they’re not getting run out of the stadium. The Browns, with Jacoby Brissett at the helm, would appear to be one of those teams where the Steelers can hang in there, get enough big plays from their better guys on both sides of the ball, and keep the game close. In a game where scoring doesn’t figure to be prolific, I suspect the Steelers can eke out the cover on Thursday Night Football.
Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers plus 4.5 points. Make the Steelers a +23.5 underdog by inserting them into a massive NFL teaser found at Wagerweb Sportsbook!