Browns vs.  Steelers: Time, live stream, how to watch, key matches, picks for 'Thursday Night Football'

Browns vs. Steelers: Time, live stream, how to watch, key matches, picks for ‘Thursday Night Football’

Week 3’s edition of “Thursday Night Football” features an old-school rivalry with the AFC North, as the Cleveland Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both of these teams suffered disheartening losses a week ago after picking up wins. in the final moments of week 1.

The Browns took a double-digit lead in the final two minutes of their game against the Jets, while the Steelers barely moved the ball all day against the Patriots. Each of these teams is looking to get back into the win column and jump, at least momentarily, to the top spot in the division and hopefully establish some sort of foundation on which to head into the playoffs.

Which of them will find their winning way? We will find out soon enough. Before we break down the match, here’s how you can watch tonight’s contest.

How to watch

Appointment: Thursday Sep 22 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)
Diffusion: Amazon Prime Video
follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Browns -4.5, U/U 38.5

When the Steelers have the ball

Pittsburgh’s offense is in big trouble. In two games, the Steelers passed just 510 yards, 30th in the NFL. On a per-game basis, they actually rank 31st. They are 26th in points per drive, 29th in Tru Media’s EPA per play, and 22nd in Football Outsiders Offensive DVOA.

Most of the trouble starts along the offensive line, where things are pretty dire. They just can’t generate thrust in the racing game. They have one of the highest first down rates in the league (50%), and on those plays they average just 2.9 yards per carry. Despite facing eight-man boxes on just 18% of carries, the Steelers are averaging just 1.30 yards before contact per attempt. On plays where Najee Harris was the ball carrier (as opposed to Mitchell Trubisky, Jaylen Warren or Chase Claypool), that number is even worse – just 0.44 per attempt.

But Harris, who suffered a Lisfranc injury during training camp and hurt his foot again in Week 1, just doesn’t look healthy. Among 44 players with at least 15 rush attempts this season, he ranks 32nd in tackle rate avoided and 31st in yards after contact per attempt. Last season, he ranked seventh in tackle rate saved and 21st in yards after contact among 53 players with 100 or more carries.

The Browns have given up just 3.77 yards per carry so far this season, and a ridiculous 0.33 before contact. The idea of ​​the Steelers finding a hasty success in this game, given how things have gone so far this year, seems rather far-fetched. And that puts the game in Trubisky’s hands, which is… not great.

Trubisky is 42 of 71 (59.2%) for 362 yards (5.2 per attempt), two touchdowns and one interception so far this season. This is despite having a lower than average pressure rate (28%) and one of the lowest blitz rates in the league (20%). He’s thrown in a tight window on 22.5% of his passes, according to NFL.com’s Next Gen stats, and has been off target with his throws 16.7% of the time, according to Tru Media. He failed to find a connection to explosive rookie George Pickens, who has been on the field for 78% of the team’s offensive snaps but has only been targeted five times. His numbers with other passers aren’t much better: Claypool has eight receptions for just 44 yards on 12 targets. Diontae Johnson lost a career-low 8.6 yards per reception. Pat Freiermuth’s catch rate has fallen to 52.9% (from 75.9 a year ago).

It’s not a tenable situation for an offense, and there’s no reason to expect it to improve anytime soon. Pickett’s time is coming, maybe as early as tonight if Trubisky struggles. With a mini-bye ahead of the team’s Week 4 game against the Jets, there’s probably no better opportunity to make the change.

If Trubisky (or Pickett) can find a way to try and push the ball downfield, there might actually be opportunities available. Cleveland has allowed more completions on throws over 20 yards in the air than any NFL team except the Jaguars, despite playing against Baker Mayfield and Joe Flacco. Getting the ball in the field usually requires time in the pocket, however, and the more time in the pocket, the more opportunity the defense has to generate pressure. Cleveland ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing ratio so far this season, with Myles Garrett leading the way. Trubisky has long been extremely sensitive to pressure and would much rather get rid of the ball quickly and in short areas than take a chance with rushers to the face. For these reasons, he seems much more likely to continue aiming under throws, and therefore create few, if any, explosive plays.

When the Browns have the ball

Predictably, the Browns ran the ball early and often, and with great success. The Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt duo is one of the best in the NFL and propelled the Browns to 5.28 yards per carry despite eight-man boxes at the NFL’s second-highest rate (33% of carries, per Tru Media). They have the NFL’s 12 best rushes of 15 yards or more, which is a league-high 15.8% share of their total rushes.

The ability to generate explosives in the running game is particularly important, as the passing game is more of a possession-based chain movement type unit at the moment, with Jacoby Brissett at the center. Pittsburgh has done a great job against the run so far this season, but has also played against two relatively weak offensive lines (Cincinnati, New England) compared to the one it faces against Cleveland on Thursday night. Without TJ Watt, the Steelers could be more susceptible to rushing offense than they have been thus far, now that they’re tasked with taking on one of the best running blocking units in the league. league.

Of course, the Steelers are no slouch up front, even without Watt. They always bring Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, Alex Highsmith and even Malik Reed to the table. They can always tackle the quarterback and put him on the ground or just keep him locked in the pocket, where he will face heavy pressure.

The Browns will surely try to rock Jacoby Brissett with play and bootlegging action concepts, with the only major perimeter they have at the moment being Amari Cooper. Tight end David Njoku, an elite athlete, has seen his snap rate increase after getting a big contract this offseason, but has yet to get much more involved in the passing game. It’s tempting to say it would be a good week to finally get him started, but he may have to deal with Minkah Fitzpatrick’s focus for much of the evening. Fitzpatrick is off to a great start to the season with two interceptions in as many weeks, and he covers as much of the back of the field as any safety in football. Any pass from Brissett into his deep half of the pitch is likely to be picked off if ranged off target.

Ultimately, this game seems likely to come down to a matter of confidence in which the offense can have any measure of success in moving the ball. Given the relative strength of Cleveland’s running game versus any aspect of Pittsburgh’s offense, that’s how we have to lean.

Prediction: Browns 20, Steelers 13

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