MNF Browns vs. Steelers Week 2 odds and predictions
Every week, VSiN will be doing an in-depth dive on the week’s Monday Night Football game. This week there just so happens to be two. For the second of the two Week 2 Monday night games, we're looking at the meeting between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at Acricsure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is a battle between two evenly-matched teams in a competitive division, so this should be a very exciting game. With that out of the way, keep reading for our Browns vs. Steelers preview, picks and player props.
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Browns vs. Steelers Spread
I know it isn’t exciting to start this thing off by talking about a right tackle, but Cleveland losing Jack Conklin for the rest of the season is a huge bummer. This Browns team looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender in a Week 1 win over the Bengals but losing such a high-level player up front is a big blow. And it’s especially going to hurt in this meeting with the Steelers. Pittsburgh is going to do everything it can to get T.J. Watt working against some of Cleveland’s weaker blockers, and that could make things tough on the entire Browns offense. The team is high on rookie Dawand Jones, who should do a solid job of filling in for Conklin eventually. But a road game against Pittsburgh and a tough defensive line will be a tough test for him right off the bat.
Pittsburgh also happens to have the type of secondary required to keep Cleveland’s wideouts in check. It wasn’t always pretty in the loss to San Francisco, but I trust Patrick Peterson can do a good job of covering Amari Cooper — if the wideout ends up playing through a hamstring injury that has him listed as questionable. And if he can, it’s hard to see how the Steelers will lose this game. Of course, stopping Nick Chubb is going to be a concern for Pittsburgh here, as the team was just dominated by Christian McCaffrey last week. But the 49ers have the luxury of running plays to the side of Trent Williams. And as good as the Browns’ offensive line can be, there’s nothing quite like that along their front. They also don’t have somebody like Kyle Shanahan calling the shots. Stefanski is a good offensive coach, but Shanahan is arguably the best in football.
Offensively, the Steelers aren’t going to light things up here. But Kenny Pickett can’t be much worse than Joe Burrow was against Cleveland last week — even without Diontae Johnson in the mix. In fact, Pickett was solid when he faced the Browns late last season, throwing for 195 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers in a 28-14 win at home. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren were also decent in that game, combining to rush for 116 yards and a touchdown. That type of offensive performance should get the job done here.
It also has to be noted that Deshaun Watson threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times when he faced Pittsburgh last season. Of course, Watson was extremely rusty last year, as he hadn’t played in over a year when he came back from his suspension. But Watson didn’t look all that comfortable against the Bengals in Week 1, so maybe he’s still trying to get himself settled out there.
Also, how can you ignore the fact that Stefanski is just 8-17 against the spread when facing AFC North opponents? That’s just the cherry on top of what already looks like a great play.
Browns vs. Steelers Total
Under head coach Mike Tomlin, the Under is 16-6 when Pittsburgh is playing at home after a game in which the team gave up 30 or more points. The Steelers allowed only 14.5 points per game in those contests, too. So, Tomlin clearly knows how to correct any mistakes made by his defense, and I trust that he’ll do it against a Cleveland team that is still unproven offensively. And that’s a big part of the reason why I’m playing the Under here. But it also doesn’t hurt that the Browns have a good defense themselves. And the Steelers aren’t exactly world-beaters offensively.
The fact that these are two teams that pride themselves on running the football — even if one of them doesn’t do it particularly well — is another reason to like this game to go Under the number. There just won’t be a lot of shots taken down the field here, and it’s hard for games to be high scoring if the offenses aren’t opening it up.
Browns vs. Steelers Player Props
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Kenny Pickett Over 12.5 Rushing Yards
Pickett isn’t going to regularly look to use his legs in this game, but he’s a lot faster than people realize — you might remember his infamous fake slide when he was playing for the University of Pittsburgh. And Pickett had at least 13 rushing yards in eight of the 13 games he played last season, showing that he’s plenty capable of taking off when he needs to. With this being a game against a Browns secondary that looked excellent in Week 1, I can see Pickett needing to tuck the ball and run when there’s some green in front of him. So, I think it’s a good idea to back the second-year pro to rush for Over 12.5 yards here.
Browns vs. Steelers Best Bet
Heading into this season, I was expecting the teams in the AFC North to beat up on one another. And if most of them hold serve at home, that’ll come true. With that said, I’m looking to the Steelers to get the job done on the moneyline in Week 2. I don’t think Pittsburgh is as bad of a team as we saw in Week 1, and Cleveland is going to have a hard time blocking with Conklin out for the year. The Steelers really should win this game and move to 1-1, so I’m going for the plus-money payout.
Bet: Steelers ML (+125)
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