Thursday Night Football: Week 11 Preview

Thursday Night Football is upon us for Week 11 and we get to watch PIT at CLE tonight. This preview will detail all the betting information you need to know, key injuries, how the teams match up, and my prediction for the game. Anyway, enough of this intro! Let’s get down to business.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

FirstEnergy Stadium

Cleveland, OH

Betting

The Steelers have owned the Browns to a record of 8-1-1 in the last 10 meetings between these teams. Soooo, I like the Steelers to cover the +3 (-120) spread and am even interested in the moneyline (+125). It is safe to say that the Browns have looked terrible all the while the Steelers, especially their defense, has looked fairly solid. We get Baker Mayfield, 2nd most thrown INTs in the NFL, versus the Steelers and their pass-rush/Minkah Fitzpatrick? Sign me up. I’m avoiding the total in this game as 41.5 (-105 UNDER) seems like bait. Are you looking for a prop bet guaranteed lock? Well, I’ve got one for you right here: OVER 5.5 total sacks (+100).

Baker Mayfield via Erik Drost for Thursday Night Football Week 11 Preview
Baker Mayfield via Erik Drost

Injuries

Breaking News via Ian Rapoport!

With Callaway gone, the Browns will feature Rashard Higgins as one of the starting receivers tonight and in the near future. Other than that breaking news, Ricky Seals-Jones is questionable which thins the pass-catchers for the Browns even more. Thankfully, there is only one more injury to report and that is starting D-lineman Olivier Vernon is OUT.

For the Steelers, James Connor is back like The Terminator baby! He’ll man the backfield alongside Jaylen Samuels as Benny Snell is ruled OUT. The only other offensive player listed on the injury report is Ryan Switzer and his absence impacts special teams more than the offense. As for defense, Anthony Chickillo and Joe Haden are listed as questionable but are expected to play.

Cleveland Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense

The Browns have been atrocious on offense this season and they are a long way from being the team we all expected them to be coming into 2019. So far, the only saving grace for the Browns has been Nick Chubb and his 20+ touches and 100+ yards per game. However, Kareem Hunt is back from suspension and will eat into the playing time of Chubb almost certainly. If the Browns can find a way to utilize both backs ala the Packers, this offense might finally be able to get going down the right path. But, that all depends on the play of Baker Mayfield. The 2nd-year QB has struggled immensely as he has thrown 12 INTs and has been sacked 25 times through 9 games. That is… not good. #Analysis. What was supposed to be a killer passing attack, Mayfield has struggled to get superstar Odell Beckham Jr and fellow pro-bowler Jarvis Landry any traction in this offense.

Nick Chubb via Erik Drost for Thursday Night Football Week 11 Preview
Nick Chubb via Erik Drost

The Steelers have been amazing on defense since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick earlier in the season. Fitzpatrick has found new life in Pittsburgh as he was floundering down in Miami. With 5 INTs and 2 defensive-touchdowns to his name, Fitzpatrick will surely give Mayfield a few headaches tonight on Thursday Night Football. It’s not a one-man-army for the Steel-Curtain though, as rookie (and leading tackler) Devin Bush, T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Cameron Heyward have dominated the line of scrimmage. With the poor O-line for the Browns and the susceptibility of Mayfield to take sacks, this game can get nasty quick. 

Pittsburgh Offense vs. Cleveland Defense

With James Connor back in action, the Steelers can go back to what has worked in the past: run the ball with Connor and then have Mason Rudolph chuck it down the field. If you want to watch superstar receivers that underwhelmed so far this season, then do I have the game for you to watch! Just like OBJ, Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster has struggled to find some footing with Rudolph throwing him the ball instead of Ben Roethlisberger. He has a tough matchup tonight so don’t expect a breakout game with Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams on hand. With under 300 yards of total offense averaged per game, the Steelers truly rely on their defense to keep them in games.

Juju Smith-Schuster via Fox Sports for Thursday Night Football Week 11 Preview
Juju Smith-Schuster via Fox Sports

For the Browns, this should be an “easy” game for them on the defensive side of the ball at least. Their own offense might be the death of them but, they should have no issue stopping the passing attack of the Steelers. The key to this game will be James Connor as the Browns allow over 130 yards on the ground per game. 

Prediction

Pittsburgh Steelers: 21

Cleveland Browns: 17

Guaranteed Touchdown Scorer: James Connor

Dart Throw Touchdown Scorer: Demetrius Harris

Conclusion

An AFC North showdown on Thursday Night Football can only mean one thing, defense wins (championships). Will both these teams on the outskirts of the playoffs, who do you have winning tonight? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out the shop and other content by clicking here.

-Mitchell Seefeldt

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