Browns Look to Get into Playoff Contention
The Cleveland Browns will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night at FirstEnergy Field in Cleveland. This is one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL and tonight should be disappoint the viewers. Both teams still have playoff hopes and tonight goes a long way to decide that.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Browns -3 O/U: 41.5
The Browns are still holding out hope of making a run at a postseason berth. They need to look no further than their upcoming opponent to believe it is possible. Pittsburgh Steelers has shrugged off a 1-4 start to get back into playoff contention. The Steelers take a four-game winning streak into tonight’s matchup.
The Steelers are currently in the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC despite losing starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1. Their defense has stepped up in a huge way. The “D” has scored in three of the past four games. “They are playing like the ’85 (Chicago) Bears,” backup quarterback Mason Rudolph said of his defense following Sunday’s 17-12 win over the Los Angeles Rams. “It seems like, every week, forcing turnovers every other series, it seems like.”
Cleveland ended a four-game skid by beating Buffalo for its first home win of the season. Thursday’s matchup against a bitter AFC North rival is a must-win affair to keep its playoff hopes alive. “We needed to have that. Moving forward, we know that we can do that,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said after tossing the winning touchdown pass with under two minutes left. “That goes a long way mentally for everybody in our locker room, but it’s a singular focus. We’re going to enjoy this win, but it’s a short week. We’re onto the Steelers.”
This, That, and a Dart Throw
The Steelers are 5-4 just past the midpoint of the NFL season. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has had an enormous impact on Pittsburgh’s defense since he was acquired from the Dolphins in mid-September. He has returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown on Sunday. He had a “Pick Six” for 96 yards for a score in the previous week’s two-point win over Indianapolis. “The ball seems to find him,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said of Fitzpatrick. He is responsible for forcing eight of the team’s 26 turnovers despite appearing in seven games. The Steelers are hoping for the return of running back James Conner. He has missed the past two games with a shoulder issue. He ran roughshod over Cleveland for 281 yards rushing and four touchdowns last season. His presence can only help Rudolph, who is averaging only 190 yards passing.
The Browns are 3-6 on the season and are in must win territory. One of the few constants for Cleveland has been the effectiveness of the running game behind Nick Chubb. He is third in the NFL with 919 yards rushing. The bruising back has eclipsed 100 yards for the fourth time in six games last week. Joining the backfield mix last Sunday after serving an eight-game suspension was former Kansas City star running back Kareem Hunt. He is a former 1,000-yard rusher who picked up 30 yards on the ground and added seven receptions for 44 yards in his first game back. Mayfield did not commit a turnover for the second straight week. He also had his first game with multiple touchdown throws on Sunday. One was to Jarvis Landry who had nine catches for 97 yards. The Browns are giving up an average of 134.9 yards rushing.
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The Dart Throw: Browns 24, Steelers 20
Thursday Night Football Trends
- Trend Over is 4-1 in Browns last 5 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater. Hit % 80.00% (5) O/U 4|1 Push 0 W/L
- Over is 3-1-1 in Browns last 5 games as a home favorite. 75.00% (5) 3|1 1
- Under is 15-6 in Browns last 21 games as a home favorite of 0.5-3.0. 71.40% (21) 6|15 0
- Under is 19-7 in Browns last 26 games as a home underdog of 3.5-10.0. 73.10% (26) 7|19 0
- Trend Under is 8-2 in Steelers last 10 games as a road underdog of 3.5-10.0. Hit % 80.00% (10) O/U 2|8 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 21-5 in Steelers last 26 games as a road favorite. 80.80% (26) 5|21 0
- Under is 5-2 in Steelers last 7 games as a road favorite of 0.5-3.0. 71.40% (7) 2|5 0
- Under is 10-2 in Steelers last 12 games as a road favorite of 3.5-10.0. 83.30% (12) 2|10 0
Head to Head Meeting Trends
- Trend Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Cleveland. Hit % 83.30% (6) O/U 1|5 Push 0 W/L
- Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings. 80.00% (5) 4|1 0
- Steelers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. 25.00% (5) 1 1|3
- Underdog is 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. 75.00% (5) 1 1|3
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