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NFL Schedule Week 18 - Browns @ SteelersCleveland Browns (7-9, 3-5 Away) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8, 3-4 Home)
Date: Sunday 8 January 2023
Time: 1:00 pm EST
Venue: Acrisure Stadium - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TV Channel: CBS
Live Stream: FuboTV, NFL+
Live Radio: Westwood One, Steeler Nation Radio, WDVE 102.5 FM & WBFF 970 AM

Browns vs. Steelers Preview

The Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers will meet for the second time this year with the season on the line for Pittsburgh. The Browns have already been eliminated from playoff contention, while the Steelers still have a glimmer of hope.

If the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins lose on Sunday and Pittsburgh wins, then the Steelers would sneak into the playoffs. The Patriots face the Buffalo Bills who are chasing the Kansas City Chiefs for the No. 1 seed, and the Miami Dolphins, who are on a five-game losing streak, will face the New York Jets.

After starting the season 2-6, the Steelers looked like they were getting ready for April’s NFL Draft as they entered their Week 9 bye. But since then, they have completely flipped the script, going 6-2 and are potentially a win away from sneaking into the playoffs.

As for the Browns, they’re eliminated from playoff contention but are still continuing to play spoiler as their 24-10 win over the Washington Commanders last week eliminated Washington from playoff contention.

Browns vs. Steelers Odds, Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under - NFL Odds Week 18

Moneyline: Cleveland Browns (+125), Pittsburgh Steelers (-145)
Spread: Cleveland Browns +2.5, Pittsburgh Steelers -2.5
Total: Over/Under 40

Browns vs. Steelers Predictions and Picks

These two teams are much different from when they met back in Week 3, when the Steelers came out on top 29-17. Pittsburgh had Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback while Cleveland had Jacoby Brissett under center. The Steelers have been rolling with Kenny Pickett, while the Browns have finally caught stride as quarterback Deshaun Watson started to look like his old self last week in Washington.

Despite being 6-2 since their bye week, Pickett and the Steelers have really struggled to move the ball, ranking 23rd in the NFL with 321.9 total yards per game. Factor that in with a Browns defense which ranks 11th in the NFL in total yards allowed per game and is only improving as they held Washington to 260 total yards and forced three turnovers last week.

Defensively, the Steelers have been pretty good at keeping their opponents off of the scoreboard as they allow 20.8 points per game, which ranks 11th in the NFL. But, if you peel back the onion a bit more, they really haven’t faced any solid offenses. They faced Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley twice, hot-and-cold Las Vegas Raiders and Atlanta Falcons offenses, a bottom-feeding Carolina Panthers offense, and the 29th-ranked Indianapolis Colts offense. So, that 6-2 run is really just fool's gold.

When they actually faced top scoring offenses in the league, they got embarrassed - Buffalo scored 38 points, Philadelphia scored 35 points, and Cincinnati scored 37 points in Week 11. Now, I’m not saying this Browns offense is at the top of the league, but they’re not bottom feeders either, and Watson has definitely shaken off the rust.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper had his first 100-yard receiving game and first multi-touchdown game since Week 11 against the Buffalo Bills. His connection with Watson is there and it’ll be one of the most lethal connections in the NFL next season. Look for Watson to thread the needle with Cooper as the Steelers do a good job on defending the run.

Yes, Pickett is a rookie, but he’s yet to impress me this year as the Steelers have struggled to move the football, and it won’t get much easier against Cleveland’s defense. If Pickett couldn’t exceed 200 yards against Atlanta’s 28th-ranked defense in Week 13, then he’s not going to do it here against Cleveland.

The Browns play spoiler and roll in this one.

The Pick: Cleveland Browns ML (+125)

This is a game where I’d truly prefer to stay away from the total as I think the Steelers will struggle to move the ball in this one, let alone score points.

As for Cleveland, Watson shook the rust off last week with three touchdowns and will repeat that here in the final week. While I don’t see the Browns putting up 30-plus, I also wouldn't be shocked if they did.

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell can kick pretty far as his season long is 59 yards and he’s 7-9 from 50 yards or more this season, so the Steelers won’t get shut out. That's why I’m leaning on the over in this one as I could see it ending 31-10 Cleveland.

The Pick: Over 40 (-110)

Best Browns vs. Steelers Props Bets Today – Analysis

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson has shaken off the rust and finally looks like his old self again. He’ll now face a Steelers secondary that really isn’t that good when you actually dive deep into it.

While they’ve held quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, Tyler Huntley under one passing touchdown or more, they struggled to stop elite quarterbacks like Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Joe Burrow, who all had four passing touchdowns against Pittsburgh.

Watson isn’t quite back to his elite status just yet, but he’s certainly getting close. Take the over on Watson’s passing touchdowns in this one.

The Pick: Deshaun Watson over 1.5 passing touchdowns (+140)

Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper and Deshaun Watson finally had the game that we all expected them to have last week as Cooper caught three passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. While the receptions weren’t there, they also weren’t really needed, as Cooper’s two touchdowns were 46 and 33-yard scores.

Take Cooper as an anytime touchdown scorer and the over on his receiving yards as he’ll end the season with a big day.

The Picks: Amari Cooper anytime touchdown, Amari Cooper over 59.5 receiving yards (-110)