Steelers vs Browns Thursday Night Football Picks, Prediction

Steelers vs. Browns Odds

The Browns blew a 13-point lead to the Jets with 2 minutes left in the game. Nick Chubb inexplicably ran in for a 12-yard touchdown, when he could have slid down in-bounds in order to guarantee a win. It then led to a genuinely insane sequence of events that led to their humiliating defeat.

I imagine the Browns are happy to play on Thursday Night Football to move on from that game as quickly as possible.

Steelers vs. Browns Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Steelers and Browns match up statistically:

Steelers vs. Browns DVOA Breakdown
Overall DVOA 22 22
Pass DVOA 22 24
Rush DVOA 20 20
Overall DVOA 4 8
Pass DVOA 8 9
Rush DVOA 1 18

When the Browns Have the Ball

Jack Conklin does not have an injury designation ahead of Thursday’s matchup, meaning he will make his season debut. As one of the game’s premier run blockers, his return could not have come at a better time.

The Browns are likely going to lean on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt heavily in what should be a much easier matchup on the ground with reigning Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt on the injured reserve.

The Patriots were able to average 4.9 yards on the ground last week in the first Watt-less game for the Steelers. I expect the Browns to continue to use Jacoby Brissett as a “game manager” quarterback. He has only attempted one pass 20 or more yards downfield all season.

In a game where we could see 15-20 mph winds, making it more difficult to throw the ball downfield, the Browns offense is specifically designed to thrive in this very matchup.

When the Steelers Have the Ball

The Steelers offense is in shambles right now, and it’s likely a mixture of offensive coordinator Matt Canada, Mitch Trubisky and the offensive line’s fault. It’s unlikely to get resolved in a week where they have just three days to prepare for the game, so I’m expecting their struggles to continue.

Pittsburgh is averaging just 21.4 yards per drive (third fewest) and unlikely to be able to take advantage of the Browns’ main weakness on defense right now, which is passes 20+ yards downfield. Trubisky has consistently been one of the worst downfield passers in the league, and that has continued this season as he is just 3-of-11 (27%) on pass attempts 20+ yards downfield.

I’m leaning towards the Under for tonight’s game. The Steelers rank dead last in explosive play rate at 7.5% and are averaging the third-fewest yards per drive (22.2). They’re unlikely going to resolve their issues in the short week and considering they will struggle to put up points here, it’s going to feed into the Browns run-heavy, ultra-conservative offense.

The Browns offense should dominate the time of possession in this game as it leans heavily on the run game. However, Cleveland is due for some regression when it comes to putting up points. The Browns have scored on 52% of their drives, which is tied with the Bills and the Chiefs for the league lead. Based on their underlying stats, we would expect them to score closer to 39% of their drives going forward.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns defense has allowed a score on 39% of their drives, but the underlying data suggests it should be closer to 30%. Therefore, I think we could see some value on Browns unders in the short term.

Unfortunately, this total has dropped from 40.5 to 38.5, so I’m only going to lean towards the under. I’m going to wait and see if this number climbs back up towards 40.5 before potentially betting it. I can’t imagine we see the number fall even further, though.

Be sure to follow me in the Action App to get notified if I end up betting on this or anything else in this game. I’d consider betting this again if it gets up to 39 or 39.5.


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