8:20 PM ET, Thursday, November 14, 2019
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
The Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4) kick off week 11 with a trip across to neighbouring state Ohio to face the Cleveland Browns (3-6) for and AFC North faceoff.
The Steelers are trying to clinch the sixth and final playoff ticket. This is no small achievement for Mike Tomlin’s side that lost team icon quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1. But their defense came in to and scored in three of the last four games. Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh’s second quarterback who stepped up and now leading the team praised the defense following Sunday’s 17-12 win over L.A. Rams: “they are playing like the 85 [Chicago] Bears…every week, forcing turnovers”.
“The ball seems to find him”, said Brown’s Coach Freddie Kitchens about Steelers’ Safety Minkha Fitzpatrick, who recovered a fumble for a 47 yards to a touchdown on Sunday. Fitzpatrick is signed on 8 out of his team’s 26 turnovers, even though he played in only 7 games. Pittsburgh are also hoping to see Running Back James Conner back in action, after he missed two games due to shoulder injury. Rudolph is still finding his feet, with a 64.5% completion and average passing of only 190 per game. Steelers Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is also looking forward to this game for sure. As he had at his single game in Cleveland 5 catches for 119 yards.
The Browns put an end to a 4-game losing streak by beating the Buffalo Bills 19-16 in their first win at home this season. But trying to win their long-time AFC North rival is a matter of keeping Cleveland’s playoff hopes alive. And some say it is within reach. “We needed to have that moving forward…we’re going to enjoy the win, but it’s a short week. We’re onto the Steelers.” said Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield after the win against the Bills.
Cleveland is basing its running game on Running Back Nick Chubb, who’s currently ranked 3rd in the NFL with 919 rushing yards, and passed 100 yards in 4 of his 6 last games. The Browns’ defensive line will also have former Kansas-City Chiefs’ Running Back Kareem Hunt who finished serving an 8-game suspension for NFL personal-conduct violation. And, quarterback Mayfield did now throw for a turnover in the past two weeks, and had his first appearance with multiple scoring passes on Sunday.
So what is to be expected on Thursday? The odds are in favor of the Browns, with the home advantage, a better running game, and a quarterback that seems to be on the up. It will be a tough showdown against Pittsburgh’s defense through.
Final Score: Browns to win 22-20 and not cover the spread
Spread: Browns -2.5 (37%) / Steelers +2.5 (63%)
O/U: 40 Over (57%) / Under (43%)
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports