Browns vs Steelers NFL Preview & Free Pick [9/18/2023]

Cleveland (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1)
When: Monday, September 18th, 2023
Where: Acrisure Stadium,
Pittsburgh, PA

Time: 8:15 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Pickem/43

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Two massive streaks are on the line for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 when they host their rivals the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. The Steelers come into this contest as a 2-point underdog after a 30-7 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1. The offense couldn’t get anything going against the stout 49ers defense. Can playing the Browns at home and on a Monday night be just what Pittsburgh needs?

The Steelers have won 19 consecutive regular season home games against the Browns dating back to the 2003 season. It is the second-longest such streak in NFL history, trailing only Green Bay’s 23 in a row vs. Detroit. Cleveland did win a wild card game there following the 2020 season. Pittsburgh also holds the record for Monday Night Football home wins with 20 in a row entering this contest. The Steelers did lose a Monday afternoon game at home during the 2020 COVID season.

The Browns are looking to start the season 2-0 for the first time since the franchise returned to the NFL in 1999. The Browns opened this season with a very impressive 24-3 home win over the Cincinnati Bengals as a 2.5-point underdog. The Browns lost two-time All-Pro offensive tackle Jack Conklin (knee) to a season-ending injury in that game. On Saturday, Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper aggravated his groin during practice and is questionable to play on Monday.

The big story last week for the Browns was there terrific defensive effort in the 24-3 win over Cincinnati. They held the high-powered Bengals to just 142 total yards and six first downs in its first game under new coordinator Jim Schwartz. Myles Garrett had a sack, tackle for loss and four QB hits. Schwartz blitzed Joe Burrow all day, and the Bengals’ QB completed a career-low 25 percent of his passes against the blitz.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (154 yards passing, TD, INT) did not look good and he now must deal without Pro Bowl right tackle Jack Conklin for the rest of the season. Rookie Dawand Jones, a fourth-round pick, replaced Conklin in Sunday’s game.

Cleveland Browns Injury Report [Week 2]

Shelby HarrisDTProb Mon - Achilles - 9/16/23
Amari CooperWRQues Mon - Groin - 9/16/23
Maurice Hurst IIDTQues Mon - Hamstring - 9/14/23
Siaki IkaDTQues Mon - Foot - 9/14/23
Jedrick Wills Jr.OTQues Mon - Foot - 9/14/23
Juan ThornhillSQues Mon - Calf - 9/12/23
Alex WrightDEOut indefinitely - Knee - 8/8/23
Jack ConklinOTI-R - Knee - 9/12/23
Jordan KunaszykLBOut indefinitely - Knee - 8/31/23
Drew ForbesGOut indefinitely - Undisclosed - 8/28/23
Jakeem Grant Sr.WRI-R - Knee - 8/27/23
Jacob PhillipsLBI-R - Pectoral - 8/12/23
Thomas Graham Jr.CBI-R - Ankle - 8/11/23
BoPete KeyesCBI-R - Finger - 8/11/23
Dawson DeatonGI-R - Knee - 8/11/23
Michael Woods IIWROut indefinitely - Achilles - 8/29/23

The Steelers were a very popular pick in Week 1 as a home dog after looking very good during the preseason. But the 49ers dominated from start to finish in the 30-7 win. Kenny Pickett and the first-team offense scored touchdowns on all five drives in the preseason but did nothing against San Francisco. The Steelers didn’t pick up a single first down in their first five possessions over the first 28 1/2 minutes.

Pickett improved in the second half of his rookie season but was picked off twice by San Francisco and threw for 239 yards. Pittsburgh lost No. 1 wide receiver Diontae Johnson and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cameron Heyward to injures. Neither is expected in Week 2 with Heyward expected out several weeks. T.J. Watt, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2021, had three sacks to tie James Harrison as Pittsburgh’s all-time leader with 80.5, and he also forced two fumbles.

Pittsburgh Steelers Injury Report [Week 2]

Player Status/Updated
Pat FreiermuthTEProb Mon - Chest - 9/15/23
Larry OgunjobiDTQues Mon - Foot - 9/14/23
Chukwuma OkoraforOLQues Mon - Concussion - 9/14/23
DeMarvin LealDEQues Mon - Elbow - 9/12/23
Anthony McFarland Jr.RBOut Mon - Knee - 9/16/23
Diontae JohnsonWRMid Oct - Hamstring - 9/13/23
Cameron HeywardDTMid Nov - Groin - 9/14/23
Cory TriceDBI-R - Leg - 8/2/23
Renell WrenDTI-R - Achilles - 8/19/23

This is a prime example of not overreacting to what happened in Week 1. The Browns are not that good and Pittsburgh isn’t that bad. I love taking teams who got blown out, while their opponent won big. Remember, Cleveland has not won a regular season game in Pittsburgh in 20 years. I fully expect the Steelers to bounce back and get the win over their rival.

Week 2 NFL Staff Selections

Pick: Steelers +2.5