Browns vs. Steelers MNF Game Preview | Monday 8:15 PM 9/18/23

September 18, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Week 2 Game Breakdown and Betting Prognostications

3 Things Preview Browns vs. Steelers:

1 – Mr. Chubb

Last season, the Browns split with the Steelers, and in their victory, RB Nick Chubb ran for 113 on 23 carries and a touchdown.  In the loss, twelve for 77 yards and no touchdowns.  GIVE CHUBB THE BALL!!

2 – Defensive Mojo

The Brown’s defense flexed their muscles in week one, holding the Bengals to only three points.  Steelers QB Kenny Pickett got sacked five times in week one and the running game never got going for Pittsburgh.  This should be an advantage for our Browns if they keep the running game at bay. 

3 – Watson Week 2 

There was a lot of chatter from Browns fans and journalists on wanting QB Deshaun Watson to have a stellar game on the Monday Night Football stage.  Hopefully, rookie RT Dawand Jones can keep Steeler star defender TJ Watt at bay, as that will be a big storyline throughout.

Overall – Before the season, I never thought the Browns could win in Pittsburgh on Monday night, but my mind has changed after what I saw in week one.  The Browns have advantages in multiple areas, it is time for Head Coach Kevin Stefanski to take advantage of this as Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has given fits to Cleveland for many years.  

It will be a grinding game, but I do see the Browns coming out on top riding Chubb and the defense.  

Browns Notes

Last Sunday, Cleveland kicked off the season with an impressive 24-3 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals in front of their home crowd. In the second quarter, quarterback Deshaun Watson showcased his skills, rushing for a 13-yard touchdown, which put the Browns in the lead at 13-0, and they maintained their advantage from there. Watson continued his stellar performance with a three-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Bryant in the fourth quarter, completing 16 of 29 passes for a total of 154 yards.

Despite the Cincinnati defense making some plays, including intercepting one of Watson’s passes and sacking him three times, the Browns dominated the ground game. Star running back Nick Chubb carried the ball 18 times for 106 yards, while backup RB Jerome Ford added 36 rushing yards, contributing to a total of 206 rushing yards for the Browns.

Cleveland’s defense also shone, holding Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow, who had been recovering from an injury sustained during the pre-season, to just 82 yards passing and no touchdowns.

Watson commented on his team’s defensive performance, especially after being called “elves” earlier in the week by Bengals WR Ja’Maar Chase: “They were determined to prove a point, and they did just that. Those guys have tremendous energy and swagger, and I believe we witnessed that today.”

In the 2022 season, the Browns ranked 17th in the league in average points per game with 21.2. They also made strides in total offense, entering the top 15 in the NFL by averaging 349.1 yards per game. In Week 1 of the current season, they continued this trend, scoring 24 points and gaining 350 yards. Defensively, the Cleveland team was ranked 12th in the league in total yards allowed in 2022, allowing an average of 331.2 per game. In terms of average points allowed per game, they ranked 19th with 22.4. However, their performance in Week 1 represented a significant improvement compared to last year, as they limited the Bengals to just three points.

Steelers Notes

In Sunday’s matchup, the Steelers’ defense struggled to contain the 49ers’ Christian McCaffery, as he rushed for 151 yards and scored a touchdown. San Francisco dominated the game on both offense and defense, securing a convincing 30-7 victory in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s defensive unit faced challenges from QB Brock Purdy, who was returning from a right elbow injury. Purdy threw for 220 yards and connected for two touchdowns with WR Brandon Aiyuk. Unfortunately, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett had a tough afternoon, throwing two costly interceptions and accumulating 232 passing yards with one touchdown. The running game also faltered, with only 41 yards on the ground, led by Najee Harris with 31 yards. In a positive note for the Pittsburgh defense, they sacked the quarterback five times and recovered a fumble from Purdy.

Looking at the bigger picture, the Pittsburgh offense has significant room for improvement. They ranked 26th in the NFL in 2022, averaging just 18.1 points per game. Their total offensive output also ranked towards the bottom of the league, averaging 322.6 yards per game. In Week 1, they struggled even further, gaining a mere 239 yards of total offense against the 49ers. On the defensive side, Pittsburgh was more formidable, ranking 11th in the league for total yards allowed in 2022, with an average of 330.4 yards per game. They were among the top 10 teams in the NFL for average points allowed per game, giving up just 20.4. However, in their Week 1 matchup against the 49ers, they surrendered 391 yards and 30 points.

In terms of injuries, the Steelers suffered setbacks last Sunday. WR Diontae Johnson will be sidelined for “a few weeks” due to a hamstring injury, while TE Pat Freiermuth is questionable with a chest injury. DT Cameron Heyward is out for the season after sustaining a groin injury in the game against the 49ers.

Pay The Man His Money Picks

Regular Season Picks Record: 2-0

Week one got us off to a nice start with Elijah Moore and Nick Chubb coming through. Moore covered his receiving yards in basically one catch, while Chubb dominated throughout the game and allowed his rushing yards to cash without breaking a sweat. Injuries are going to start playing significant roles in bets, and identifying who the next man up is can be profitable. Here are three picks for tonight’s Browns vs. Steelers game.

Best Bets for Browns vs. Steelers MNF Week 2

Donovan Peoples-Jones over 34.5 receiving yards (-115)

In week one, Donovan Peoples-Jones received the most pass snaps of any Browns receiver with 28. With Amari Cooper doubtful, Peoples-Jones is poised to become the primary option out wide, while Elijah Moore continues to operate in the slot. A year ago, DPJ finished second in targets and yards, trailing only Cooper, and played just 19 fewer snaps than him when lined up out wide.

He covered this line in 65% of games last year, including three out of six with Deshaun Watson. In the season finale versus the Steelers last year, he finished with 42 yards on four targets. DPJ never had a game to himself last year, as Cooper played alongside him in all 17 games. The Steelers rank 26th since the start of last season in passing EPA, indicating they have been susceptible to giving up air yards. I expect the run game to prevail in this one, but DPJ is set to see too many snaps to not have the opportunity to cash in on this line.

Allen Robinson over 2.5 receptions (-154)

This is the first non-Browns pick of the season, and it holds value due to injuries. In his Steelers’ debut last week, Allen Robinson finished with seven targets and five receptions, trailing only George Pickens in the snap count. Even before Diontae Johnson’s exit, Robinson was handling most of the work in the slot, ending with 40 pass snaps from that position.

Johnson is out for Monday night, and Pickens was added to the injury report this weekend with a hamstring injury. The Steelers will have to target Robinson, and he should be able to secure three receptions even against the tough Browns defense. I like the chances of the Browns being ahead in the second half, forcing the Steelers into a throwing situation, which would be advantageous if Robinson hasn’t cleared this line yet. With the lack of healthy receivers and his significant usage in week one, this is a solid play because someone will need to catch passes for them on Monday night.

Nick Chubb over 81.5 rushing yards (-125)

Sticking with the same bet as last week, the line has increased by five yards from 76.5. Nick Chubb exceeded this mark in 65% of games in 2022 and had an impressive 106 yards in week one against the Bengals. In the first game last year against Pittsburgh, Chubb rushed for 113 yards on 22 attempts. He narrowly missed the mark in week 18 with 77 yards, but he had one of his lowest carry totals in a game with just 12 attempts. Coming off an 18-carry performance in week one, Chubb is projected to have 18.7 carries and 94.8 yards.

The Steelers’ run defense will suffer from the absence of Cameron Heyward, and Larry Ogunjobi is questionable. I anticipate the Browns leaning on Chubb again to alleviate the pressure on Deshaun Watson, especially in a hostile primetime environment. In their victories last year, Chubb surpassed this line in six out of seven games, with his one miss still resulting in 80 yards. If the Browns take control of the game as they should, Chubb will likely have ample opportunities late in the game to secure this line, potentially sealing the victory if he hasn’t already.

Since 1990, teams that started 2-0 made the playoffs 63.8% of the time, while teams with a 1-1 record made it 41.8% of the time. While this game isn’t a make-or-break situation, it’s a genuine opportunity for the Browns to find themselves in an favorable position after just two weeks


The Browns haven’t been 2-0 in quite some time, and Monday night presents a fantastic opportunity for this team to build confidence. If the Browns can establish dominance in the trenches and protect the football, they have a good chance of adding a win to their record. Neutralizing TJ Watt is crucial, and the defensive line needs to set the tempo right from the start, much like they did in week one.

Browns win, Browns win!  Give -2, Browns 20-17 over Pitt.

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