NFL Game preview: Browns vs Steelers Predictions and Odds - What to Expect From the 2022 NFL Season’s First Epic Clash

A look at the Browns vs Steelers odds ahead of a tense Week 3 Thursday night clash between the AFC North rivals.

Browns vs Steelers Predictions: Recommended bets

Browns vs Steelers Prediction - The Season’s First Heavyweight Bout

Two games into their respective 2022 NFL seasons, both the Steelers and the Browns can feel secure in the “fairness” (on balance) of their 1-1 records. At the same time, both will feel a bit fortunate to have come away from the opening fortnight with even one win while also kicking themselves for failing to secure 2-0 starts. It’s an emotional minefield.

On Thursday, September 22, at 8:15 pm ET at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland (and televised on Amazon Prime), the Browns and Steelers will revive one of the NFL’s best rivalries - and give us an unexpected early-season AFC North frontrunner in the process. Looking at the Browns vs Steelers odds, the hometown Browns are listed as a rather hefty 4.5-point favorite, with the prevailing over/line at 38/38.5. 

Ahead of Thursday Night Football Week 3, let's take a look at the latest team news and what we can expect from the game. For more NFL content, be sure to check out our betting resources

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Pittsburgh Steelers Team News

The Steelers did a wonderful job muddying up their season opener against the Bengals, frustrating the defending AFC Champions, and jumping out to a 17-6 halftime lead. They then blew that lead in regulation and survived to see overtime, ultimately grinding out a 23-20 win thanks to a blocked extra point by Minkah Fitzpatrick.

On the heels of that game, a matchup with the New England Patriots, whose offense has looked listless in the preseason and the season opener against Miami, set the stage for a 2-0 start. In a contest that was no one’s idea of an offensive masterclass, the Steelers’ attack, at home, came up smaller than that of the Pats.

New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers 

 

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Anyone watching Patriots-Steelers will have noticed that, amid the offensive disaster in which quarterback Mitchell Trubisky essentially recreated his Week 1 line (21-of-33, 168 yards, one touchdown, one interception), only one wide receiver (Dionte Johnson, who had six catches for 57 yards) had over 26 yards. The talented second-year running back, Najee Harris, had another underwhelming performance with just 49 yards on 15 carries (although he did have 40 receiving yards). The Pittsburgh faithful began chanting for the Pittsburgh native, University of Pittsburgh alum, a first-round draft pick, and, by virtue of being the backup behind an underwhelming starter, the most popular guy in town, Kenny Pickett. 

That Trubisky still tops the depth chart (for now), playing the role of the professional, and is going to “block out” the calls for his hometown hero replacement, is commendable. Still, those shouts will get harder and harder to ignore in the absence of even boring productivity, let alone any dynamism.

Though surely driven on some level by Homerism, the calls for Pickett are understandable. Harris, who posted 1,200 rushing yards (on an admittedly subpar 3.9 yards per carry) and 1,667 total yards (on a league-high 381 touches) as a rookie a year ago, is languishing. Meanwhile, a passing game featuring the super-talented wideout trio of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and rookie George Pickens is averaging just 5.1 yards per attempt, with just two pass catchers - Johnson (112) and tight end Pat Friermuth (97) - with more than 44 yards. 

Most importantly, flat offensive performances like the one on Sunday take the wind out of the sails of the Steelers’ deep and talented defense. The unit, the perennial bedrock of this team and loaded with stars even after losing defending Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt to a torn pectoral muscle, ranks the top ten in lowest yards-per-rush allowed (4.0) and percentage of opposing drives ending a score (29.2%, per Pro-Football Reference). It’s also in the top five in the percentage of opponents’ drives ending in a turnover (this stat is notoriously volatile and can be fluky, but they have forced turnovers on 25% of opposing drives). An offense that wastes these types of performances will never be particularly popular.

What does that mean for the Steelers, who, for the moment, are sticking with Trubisky? This offense must better utilize its depth and varied talent to generate opportunities against a pass rush led by all-world defender Myles Garrett, with the excellent duo of Jadeveon Clowney and Chase Winovich in support. If the focus is on Johnson, Claypool, Friermuth, and Harris (which we believe it will be), there ought to be opportunities for rookie George Pickens to turn in a big performance. This fact plays into our thinking come Browns vs Steelers predictions

Cleveland Browns Team News

The Browns, meanwhile, kicked off the season with Jacoby Brissett under center as they await the return of Deshaun Watson from an 11-game sexual misconduct suspension.

They opened on the road, in Carolina, against their former starting quarterback, Baker Mayfield. After riding their awesome backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (33 carries, 187 yards, 1 TD, plus a receiving TD combined) to a double-digit lead, the Browns, too, surrendered that advantage in the fourth quarter and trailed with under a minute to play. Only a 58-yard field goal in the final seconds allowed them to steal back a two-point win.

That set the stage for the Brown to jump out to a 2-0 start - with the Jets coming into Cleveland, and it also made it a safe bet. Thanks to another strong showing from Chubb and Hunt (a combined 145 rushing yards and 42 receiving yards, with three rushing TDs for Chubb) and an extremely efficient performance from Brissett (22-of-27, 229 yards, plus six rushes for 43 yards), the Browns had the Jets all but put away, leading by 13 with under two minutes to play.

We all know what came next. Joe Flacco, 66 yards to Corey Davis, to bring the Jets to within six. Then, a successful onside kick and a drive for 53 yards in under a minute, capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass to first-round pick Garrett Wilson to complete the miraculous comeback.

New York Jets vs Cleveland Browns

 

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While the focus in the aftermath of the loss was on Chubb’s final touchdown and whether he could have gone down inbounds (to allow the Browns to run out the clock) rather than scoring and returning the ball to the Jets, the most profound questions should be directed at the Browns’ secondary. That group, which boasts talent at cornerback in second-year man (and 2021 first-round pick) Greg Newsom II and especially two-time Pro Bowler Denzel Ward (who did miss most of last season due to injury), has struggled thus far to stop a pair of wide receiver groups that, while decent, are not on the level of the Steelers corps.

Against the Panthers, they allowed receptions of 75 and 50 yards (to different receivers) and allowed Robbie Anderson to light them up for 102 yards on five catches. Then, as we discussed, against the Jets, they were burned by the big play again (the late 66-yarder to Davis) and allowed 102 yards and two touchdowns (including the game-winner) to Garrett Wilson. Against that backdrop, the Steelers pass-catchers (and the threat of Harris on the ground) should strike fear into the hearts of Browns fans. 

Browns vs Steelers Predictions and Game Preview

I'm looking this week at ultra-talented rookie George Pickens, whose over-under line for receiving yards in the Browns vs Steelers odds is at just 28.5. Though Pickens was a non-factor in Week 1 (1 catch, 3 yards), he had a 23-yard catch in Week 2. That was his only catch of the game, but his role in the offense will grow from week to week. This week, with Johnson, Claypool, Friermuth, Harris getting most of the attention, a near-30-yard outing for Pickens seems easy pickings.

Meanwhile, on offense, the Browns figure to lean on the formula that has served them thus far, the best running back combo in the NFL, in Pro Bowler Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. It’s unlikely that any defense, let alone one missing its best player, can effectively slow down (never mind stop) this pair, especially Chubb. However, as noted above, the Steelers have fared well in their two outings against the run. Even in Watt’s absence, they have the personnel to continue doing so while shutting down the worst quarterback they’ve seen this year.

To create time in the pocket for Brissett and running lanes for Chubb and Hunt, Brissett and the Browns will need to focus on getting the ball out quickly and to the playmakers. The key to that approach will be Kareem Hunt.

Throughout his five-year NFL career, Hunt has averaged roughly three receptions for nearly 30 yards per game. Though he missed most of last season, he produced around that clip in 2021, with 22 catches for 174 yards in eight games. Through two games thus far this season, he’s caught all six of his targets for 40 yards and a touchdown. 

Given the Browns’ relative weaknesses and what they need out of their offense this week, an expanded role for Hunt makes a lot of sense. That the over-under line for his receiving yards in the Browns vs Steelers odds is just 15.5 does not. As great as I feel about the prospect of George Pickens racking up at least 29 yards through the year (and I do feel great about that), Kareem Hunt to surpass 15 receiving yards is my favorite among these Browns vs Steelers predictions.

Browns vs Steelers Predictions - Recommended bets

Conclusion

Thursday Night Football brings us a tense clash between AFC North rivals in the Browns vs Steelers. Interested in more football content? Be sure to read our guide: How To Bet on American Football or take a look at some of the best Football betting promos available. Visit our odds comparison tool to compare the latest odds. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who has the advantage in the Browns vs Steelers game?

At Caesars, the Browns vs Steelers odds are:

 

Spread

Total

Moneyline

Pittsburgh Steelers

+4.5 

-110

Over 38

-110

+175

Kansas City Chiefs

-4.5 

-110

Under 38

-110

-210

Who will win in the Browns vs Steelers game?

Our Browns vs Steelers Prediction is that we expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to be a solid bet at +4.5, -110 at FanDuel, or Caesars.

 

Written by Emile Avanessian.

Emile is a one-time banker turned sports writer from the United States, now living in Barcelona, Spain. He has primarily written on the NBA and NFL for over 10 years but is also extremely knowledgeable about the EPL, college basketball, and football.  

He also writes for Squawka, and his work has been published in The Los Angeles Times, Yahoo Sports, SI.com, and on ESPN.