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Home » Predictions, Odds and Injuries to Know for Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Predictions, Odds and Injuries to Know for Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers

08 January 2023, Sunday
This is a significant game for the Steelers. As they come into Sunday with a record of 8-8 and a possibility to enter the playoffs, the Browns are 7-9, having been dismissed from the playoff race two weeks prior. With the Steelers playing at home, it raises the question of whether or not the Browns are simply aiming to survive the day uninjured and then go home.

Following his vocal criticism of the coaching, favoritism toward Myles Garrett, and mistreatment directed at him, the Cleveland Browns sent Jadeveon Clowney home from practice and he will not participate in Sunday’s game. It is yet to be seen how this situation will affect the team; it could be a unifying factor for the Browns or yet another sign of upheaval within the organization—as was suggested in 2018 when Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were let go mid-season.

The Browns are touting the upcoming game as an opportunity to snuff out the Steelers' playoff aspirations and end coach Mike Tomlin's 15-year streak of not having a losing season. While it remains uncertain whether this is enough to motivate the Browns, it would be understandable considering the peculiar nature of their 2022 campaign.

Deshaun Watson is set to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time as part of the Houston Texans. In the five games he's played since being traded to the Texans, he has only had one strong performance. That was the second half of last week's 24-10 win against Washington in which he connected for three touchdown passes.

Since coming back from his 11-game suspension, Deshaun Watson has seen mixed success. During the first half of the Washington game, Watson completed only three passes for 28 yards, while being sacked four times. These sacks were a result of two issues - some struggles with protection, as well as Watson holding onto the ball too long. Additionally, there were some issues with receivers running their routes correctly.

In the second half of the game, Deshaun Watson covered the field less and instead took more time to confidently place the ball where it was needed. His efforts were rewarded, as he connected with Amari Cooper for two touchdown passes.

Head coach Mike Tomlin made a point of mentioning the successful relationship between Watson and Cooper. He stated, “Having Deshaun Watson in the stadium has got everyone's attention ... We also have to do a better job with Cooper as he is a major part of the offense. As they play more and more together, it's reasonable to expect better results, so that's something we'll be aiming at.”

Tomlin stated that during Cleveland's 29-17 victory over Pittsburgh on September 22nd, the Browns had five third-and-1 situations. He credited their running game for helping set up these short yardage opportunities, noting that Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 160 yards with 35 carries. Additionally, the Browns QB Jacoby Brissett was 21 of 31 for 220 yards and two TDs. Tomlin stated that this was a result of the Browns "winning the attrition" by wearing down the Steelers defense.

For Watson, Sunday's matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers will be his last game of the season. Though it has been 700 days since his last game, rust should no longer be a factor. The forecasted high temperature of 43 degrees in Pittsburgh removes any worries of weather interfering with the game. This is typical weather for a January game in the AFC North and similar circumstances are something Watson must be prepared for in the years to come with the Browns.

The last time Mentor product Mitch Trubisky met these two teams, he was starting at QB for Pittsburgh. But now, the job has been taken over by rookie Kenny Pickett, and the Steelers have flourished under him. Since the bye week, Pittsburgh has posted a 6-2 record with Pickett leading the way. He has delivered a pair of dramatic game-winning drives, one against Baltimore (16-13) and the other against Las Vegas (13-10).

Mason Rudolph's numbers aren't particularly impressive: six touchdowns versus nine interceptions, with a completion rate of 64%. Although he is mobile, he has only rushed for 236 yards (at a 4.5 average). Rudolph's record as the starter stands at 6-5. Pittsburgh's offensive strategy against the Browns is likely to involve a lot of running, a focus on defense, and attempting to win through a close, low-scoring game.

The Cleveland Browns have a bleak record when it comes to playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium (formerly Heinz Field). Since the Pittsburgh moved to this venue, the Browns have lost 19 out of 20 regular season games against them. The one bright spot was the playoff game in 2020, which the Browns won. But when it comes to the regular season, the Steelers are likely to come out on top again and the outcome of this game is predicted to be 19-17 in their favor.
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