Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Recommended Wager: PIT -3.0
Cleveland Browns: (Week 9 bye)
-QB Baker Mayfield (ribs/AC Joint) was injured week 5. He is QUESTIONABLE, but will play.
-WR Odell Beckham Jr (illness) is QUESTIONABLE after missing practices Thursday/Friday, but he is expected to play.
-RG Wyatt Teller (calf) was injured week 5. He did not practice all week and is OUT.
-DT Larry Ogunjobi (abdominal) was injured week 4 and INACTIVE week 5 after not practicing all week. He returned to practice this week as limited and is QUESTIONABLE.
-DE Oliver Vernon (groin) is QUESTIONABLE after being limited all week.
-S Karl Joseph (hamstring) was INACTIVE week 5 after being questionable. He did not practice all week and is OUT.
-S Ronnie Harrison Jr. (concussion) is OUT after not practicing all week. Harrison is Joseph’s back up.
IR: WR KhaDarel Hodge (hamstring), TE David Njoku (knee), RB Nick Chubb (sprained MCL), DT Andrew Billings (opt out), CB Greedy Williams (shoulder), K JoJo Natson (ACL – season ending)
Pittsburgh Steelers: (Week 4 bye)
-WR Diontae Johnson (back) was injured week 5. He is OUT after not practicing Friday.
-RG David DeCastro (abdominal) was injured week 5. He is OUT after not practicing all week.
IR: RT Zach Banner (season ending – ACL), G Stefen Wisnewski (pectoral)
Spread watching: The line opened at 5.5. We grabbed it at 3 on Wednesday, but unfortunately it has since moved to 3.5. I wouldn’t bet this if you cannot get 3.
The Browns offense sits at 14th in DVOA and 10th in EPA/play. Surprisingly, the thing holding them back is the quarterback. Baker Mayfield is sitting at a pedestrian 61.2 completion percentage, gaining 6.4 yards per attempt with a PFF grade of 66.7. 4.65% of his passes have been labeled “turnover worthy” by PFF, which has led to 4 INTs on the season. Mayfield is also dealing with both a rib and an AC joint injury from the previous week, and I don’t expect him to be 100%. One quick note on the AC joint injury — the team did not disclose that, so you won’t find it on the injury list, but I’m trusting profootballdoc who is very good at diagnosing injuries. Mayfield plays behind one of the best offensive lines in football, although they will be without RG Wyatt Teller, who has been flat out dominant in his third year. Odell Beckham Jr (39 targets), slot man Jarvis Landry (27), and TE Austin Hooper (26) have been the top options for the Browns this year. OBJ missed practice Thursday/Friday with a non COVID illness and will play, but it’s naturally possible he won’t be 100% either. Their running game is lead by Kareem Hunt, and they sit at 4th in both EPA/play and DVOA. The defense is 11th in EPA/play and 17th in DVOA. Myles Garrett has been a dominant edge rusher — his 33 pressures are tied with Aaron Donald for the most in the league. Sheldon Richardson (13 pressures) will occasionally get their from the inside, but with Oliver Vernon banged up and playing poorly, they haven’t had a ton of success as a team in getting to the QB. Their secondary is lead by Denzel Ward, who is very good at man to man coverage, but injuries to Ronnie Harrison and Karl Joseph leave them weak at safety.
The Steelers offense is 13th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play. Ben Roethlisberger has turned into a game manager, his aDOT (average depth of target) sits at 7, which is 6th lowest in the league. Big Ben has excelled in this role, however, he’s completing 69.9% (nice) of his passes, gaining 7.1 yards per attempt, and has a PFF grade of 73.7. Only 1.23% of his passes are turnover worthy, which has lead to a healthy 10:1 TD:INT ratio. Ben is the safer and more reliable QB in the game, but probably has less upside. The issue the Steelers could run into is Myles Garrett vs their very banged up offensive line, which will be without 3 of their projected week 1 starters. WR Diontae Johnson (back) will also miss, but the emergence of rookie Chase Claypool should mitigate that loss. Outside of Clapool, slot man JuJu Smith-Schuster will be the top receiver for the Steelers. The running game will be lead by James Connor, who is gaining a healthy 4.9 yards per attempt. The defense is 7th in EPA/play and DVOA. They’re lead by a ridiculously impressive pass rush that also loves to blitz. Against a powerful offensive line, that will certainly be the story in this one, particularly with Mayfield banged up. Stephon Tuitt (25 pressures), TJ Watt (23), Bud Depree (23), and Cameron Heyward (17) will lead the way. The secondary has been far less impressive with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and his 53.7 PFF grade continuing to struggle.
Take it by more than a field goal, boys.