Browns vs. Steelers: Time, live streaming, how to watch, key matchups, pick for ‘Thursday Night Football’

The Week 3 version of “Thursday Night Football” options an old-school AFC North rivalry, because the Cleveland Browns play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both of those groups are coming off dispiriting losses per week in the past, after they’d picked up victories within the closing moments in Week 1.

The Browns blew a double-digit lead within the final two minutes of their sport towards the Jets, whereas the Steelers barely moved the ball all day towards the Patriots. Each of those groups is wanting to get again within the win column and leap, not less than, momentarily, into first place within the division, and hopefully set up some form of basis on which to make a run to the playoffs.

Which of them will get again to their profitable methods? We’ll discover out quickly sufficient. Before we break down the matchup, this is how you’ll be able to watch this night’s contest.

How to watch

Date: Thursday, Sept. 22 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
Stream: Amazon Prime Video
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Browns -4.5, O/U 38.5

When the Steelers have the ball

Pittsburgh’s offense is in main bother. Through two video games, the Steelers have managed simply 510 yards, thirtieth within the NFL. On a per-play foundation, they really rank thirty first. They’re twenty sixth in factors per drive, twenty ninth in Tru Media’s EPA per play, and twenty second in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA.

Most of the problems start alongside the offensive line, the place issues are fairly dire. They merely can’t generate any push in any respect within the run sport. They have one of many league’s highest first-down run charges (50 %), and on these performs have averaged simply 2.9 yards per rush. Despite going through eight-man packing containers on solely 18 % of runs, the Steelers have averaged simply 1.30 yards earlier than contact per try. On performs the place Najee Harris was the ball-carrier (as opposed to Mitchell Trubisky, Jaylen Warren, or Chase Claypool), that determine is even worse — simply 0.44 per try.

But Harris, who handled a Lisfranc harm throughout coaching camp and injured his foot once more in Week 1, simply does not look wholesome. Among the 44 gamers with not less than 15 rush makes an attempt this season, he ranks thirty second in prevented sort out charge and thirty first in yards after contact per try. Last season, he ranked seventh in prevented sort out charge and twenty first in yards after contact among the many 53 gamers with 100 carries or extra.

The Browns have yielded solely 3.77 yards per rush up to now this season, and a ridiculous 0.33 earlier than contact. The thought of ​​the Steelers discovering speeding success on this sport, given how issues have gone up to now this 12 months, appears slightly far-fetched. And that places the sport in Trubisky’s arms, which is … not nice.

Trubisky is 42 of 71 (59.2 %) for 362 yards (5.2 per try), two touchdowns, and one interception up to now this season. That’s regardless of a below-average strain charge (28 %) and one of many lowest blitz charges within the league (20 %). He’s thrown into a good window on 22.5 % of his passes, in accordance to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, and has been off beam along with his throws 16.7 % of the time, per Tru Media. He has failed to discover a reference to explosive rookie George Pickens, who has been on the sector for 78 % of the staff’s offensive snaps however has been focused solely 5 occasions. His numbers with the opposite pass-catchers will not be significantly better: Claypool has eight receptions for simply 44 yards on 12 targets. Diontae Johnson is down a career-low 8.6 yards per reception. Pat Freiermuth’s catch charge is down to 52.9 % (from 75.9 a 12 months in the past).

This will not be a tenable scenario for an offense, and there is not any motive to count on that it’s going to get higher anytime quickly. The time for Pickett is coming, maybe as quickly as tonight if Trubisky struggles. With a mini-bye earlier than the staff’s Week 4 sport towards the Jets, there’s most likely no higher alternative to make the swap.

If Trubisky (or Pickett) can work out a means to attempt to push the ball down the sector, there would possibly truly be some alternatives out there. Cleveland has allowed extra completions on throws of 20-plus air yards than any staff within the NFL besides the Jaguars, regardless of having performed towards Baker Mayfield and Joe Flacco. Getting the ball downfield usually requires time within the pocket, although, and the extra time within the pocket, the extra alternative for the protection to generate strain. Cleveland ranks seventh within the NFL in strain charge up to now this season, with Myles Garrett main the best way. Trubisky has lengthy been wildly vulnerable to strain, and would slightly eliminate the ball shortly and briefly areas than take his possibilities with rushers in his face. For these causes, he appears way more probably to proceed focusing on beneath throws, and thus to create few — if any — explosive performs.

When the Browns have the ball

Predictably, the Browns have run the ball early and sometimes, and with nice success. The Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt duo is likely one of the NFL’s greatest, and has powered the Browns to 5.28 yards per carry regardless of going through eight-man packing containers on the second-highest charge within the NFL (33 % of carries, per Tru Media). They have an NFL-best 12 runs of 15 yards or extra, good for a league-high 15.8 % share of their complete carries.

The means to generate explosives within the run sport is especially vital, as a result of the go sport is extra of a possession-based, move-the-chains kind of unit in the intervening time, with Jacoby Brissett below middle. Pittsburgh has finished a robust job towards the run up to now this season, however has additionally performed towards two comparatively weak offensive traces (Cincinnati, New England) in contrast to the one it should face towards Cleveland on Thursday night time. Without TJ Watt, the Steelers could be extra vulnerable to the bottom assault than it has been up to now, now that it is tasked with going up towards one of many league’s greatest run-blocking items.

Of course, the Steelers are not any slouches up entrance — even sans Watt. They nonetheless convey Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, Alex Highsmith, and even Malik Reed to the desk. They can nonetheless get after the quarterback and get him to the bottom or just preserve him boxed into the pocket, the place he’ll have to take care of heavy strain.

The Browns will certainly attempt to get Jacoby Brissett on the transfer with play-action and bootleg ideas, with the one main downfield perimeter they’ve in the intervening time is Amari Cooper. Tight finish David Njoku, an elite athlete, has seen his snap charge rise after getting a giant contract this offseason, however has but to grow to be considerably extra concerned within the passing sport. It’s tempting to say this might be a very good week to lastly get him going, however he might have to take care of the main target of Minkah Fitzpatrick for a lot of the night. Fitzpatrick is off to a terrific begin to the season with two interceptions in as many weeks, and he covers as a lot of the again finish of the sector as any security in soccer. Any Brissett go to his deep half of the sector is liable to get picked if it is remotely off-target.

In the tip, this sport appears probably to come down to a matter of belief during which offense can have any measure of success in shifting the ball. Given the relative power of Cleveland’s operating sport compared to any facet of Pittsburgh’s offense, that is the best way we’ve to lean.

Prediction: Browns 20, Steelers 13

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