Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns: Predictions and Odds (NFL Week 11)
This game goes to the Cleveland Browns by a field goal. Final score: Browns 22, Steelers 19.
How to Watch: Steelers vs Browns
What: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
When: Thursday Night Football, November 14 at 8:20 pm ET
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio
How (TV): NFLN
Latest point spread: Steelers +2.5, Browns -2.5
Thursday Night Football in Week 11 features an exciting long-time AFC North rivalry between the 5-4 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 3-6 Cleveland Browns, both struggling to keep up with the 7-2 Baltimore Ravens in that division.
The Steelers took care of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10, making that five wins out of their last six games, whereas the Browns finally snuffed a four-game losing slide with a slender win over the Buffalo Bills by a field goal.
Pittsburgh is having to survive losing their franchise quarterback to injury and Cleveland is having to survive their franchise quarterback’s sophomore slump, so let’s take a quick look at how these two teams measure up against each other for their Week 11 faceoff.
Take a look at our weekly video “NFL Week 11 – Picks & Best Bets“.
The 5-4-0 Pittsburgh Steelers
The 5-4 Pittsburgh Steelers are on a roll, winning their last four games, including most recently against last year’s NFC champions, the Los Angeles Rams, and it’s almost possible to ignore the fact that they are doing it without their franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is on injured reserve after suffering a non-contact elbow injury early in the season.
Backup Mason Rudolph is getting the job done (he’s thrown for 11 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions) with much help from receivers Juju Smith Schuster and James Washington, both doing their best to fill the shoes left empty by departing star Antonio Brown.
The real emerging stars of the Steelers are on the defensive side of the ball, particularly T.J. Watt, rookie linebacker Devin Bush and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who are beginning to attack opponents on all three levels of the field.
For more on the Steelers read also: “Pittsburgh Steelers Postseason Odds“.
The 3-6-0 Cleveland Browns
Some blame the Cleveland Browns’ 3-6 record on sloppy work by the players (penalties and turnovers) while others point to the amateur game planning and clock management done by the rookie head coach, Freddie Kitchens, but there is definitely something a bit off with this talented (yet underperforming) football team.
Baker Mayfield looks brilliant at times and then throws yet another interception (he’s 2nd in the league in that undesirable category with 12) and the same goes for star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who’s lacking targets, and much of the defense, which doesn’t seem to understand how to tackle much of the time.
There’s a reason the Browns are favored in this Thursday Night Football matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers – they’re talented and the better team, overall – but with the way Cleveland constantly shoots itself in the foot, it’s anyone’s guess as to who should actually be favored in this one.
For more on the Browns check out also: “Cleveland Browns 2019-2020 Postseason Odds“.
What’s at Stake for Steelers vs Browns?
These two divisional rivals have met 134 total times (including 2 postseason games), with Pittsburgh winning 75 of those times and Cleveland winning the other 58 games, plus 1 tie.
The last time these two teams played was last season in October when the Steelers beat up the Browns at Three Rivers by a score of 33-18.
If the Steelers win this matchup, they’ll move to 6-4-0 and legitimately threaten the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North, who go into Week 11 with a 7-2 record.
But if the Browns come out winners in this one, they’ll be 4-6-0 and on a two-game win streak, proving that this upcoming weak part of their schedule might be their legitimate chance to catch up to the Ravens in the AFC North, or at the very least qualify for one of the two AFC Wild Card Playoff spots available.
Questions to Answer
Who’s favored to win this Week 11 Steelers-Browns matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Steelers and the Browns next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Offensive Stats Comparison
Pittsburgh Steelers Overall Offense
- Ranked 4th overall in 2018
- Ranked 28th overall in 2019
Passing attack: The Pittsburgh Steelers have the 27th ranked passing offense in the league right now, averaging 205.6 yards per game through the air after ten weeks.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph is currently under center in Pittsburgh and ranked the 30th most productive passer in the league having completed 131-of-203 passes for 1,330 yards and 11 touchdowns with 4 interceptions and a completion percentage of 64.5.
The Steelers’ leading receiver after ten weeks is Juju Smith-Schuster, who is currently ranked 37th in the league among receivers with 36 catches for 503 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Rushing attack: The Steelers’ rushing attack is ranked 27th in the NFL after averaging 83.2 yards on the ground per game.
James Conner is the Steelers’ best runner and he is currently ranked 28th in the NFL among running backs with 97 carries for 380 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
Pittsburgh has scored 193 total points this season, or 21.4 per game, which is the 19th best total in the NFL.
Pittsburgh Offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 11: running back James Conner (shoulder – AC joint), wide receiver Ryan Switzer (back) and offensive guard Ramon Foster (concussion).
Injury notes: running back Benny Snell (knee – Meniscus) is listed as DOUBTFUL, while quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) has been placed on injured reserve.
Cleveland Browns Overall Offense
- Ranked 13th overall in 2018
- Ranked 19th overall in 2019
Passing attack: Cleveland has the 19th best passing attack in the league right now after averaging 224.6 yards through the air each game.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield is the 17th most productive NFL passer after completing 185-of-309 passes for 2,201 yards and 9 touchdowns with 12 interceptions and a completion percentage of 59.9.
The Browns’ best receiver is currently Jarvis Landry, who has caught 45 passes for 652 yards with 2 touchdowns in ten weeks, ranked 18th among NFL receivers right now.
Rushing attack: Cleveland has the 13th ranked rushing attack, so far averaging 123.9 yards on the ground per game.
Nick Chubb is the Browns’ best runner and now he is the 3rd most productive in the NFL with 174 carries for 919 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Cleveland has scored 171 points in 2019, averaging 19 per game, which is currently the 26th highest scoring average in the NFL.
Cleveland Offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 11: offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (knee).
Injury notes: tight end David Njoku (wrist), center Lo Falemaka (shoulder), guard Drew Forbes (knee), wide receiver D.J. Montgomery (hamstring) and quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) have all been placed on injured reserve.
The offensive advantage goes to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, that is unless they continue to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties, turnovers and red zone failures.
Defensive Stats Comparison
Pittsburgh Steelers Overall Defense
- Ranked 6th overall in 2018
- Ranked 12th overall in 2019
Pass coverage: The Steelers have the 12th best pass defense in 2019 so far, allowing opponents to throw for 226.9 yards through the air per game.
Pittsburgh’s defense has 14 team interceptions and they have 33 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Steelers are the 17th best NFL team against the run right now after allowing opponents to run for 105.3 yards per game.
Pittsburgh has allowed their opponents to score 181 total points, or 20.1 per game, which is the 10th least in the NFL.
Steelers Defensive Players to Watch
Rookie linebacker Devin Bush was drafted to “quarterback” the Steelers’ defense, and he starting to get comfortable doing just that, so far with 69 total tackles (4 for a loss), a sack, a quarterback hit, 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended and 4 recovered fumbles (with one of those for a touchdown).
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt is the quarterback-hunting outside linebacker worth watching on the Steelers, right now with 9.5 sacks (5th most in the NFL), 22 quarterback hits, an interception, 4 passes defended, 4 forced fumbles, 3 recovered fumbles and 31 total tackles (8 for a loss).
Leading the league in interceptions is Pittsburgh’s newly acquired free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who has 5 interceptions (one of those was a 96-yard pick-six), 13 passes defended, a forced fumble, a recovered fumble, and 34 total tackles.
Steelers Defensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 11: linebackers Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (hip) and Anthony Chickillo (ribs).
Injury notes: linebacker Ryan Shazier (spine) is listed as PUP-R, while defensive ends Lavon Hooks (Achilles) and Stephon Tuitt (pectoral), linebacker Ulysees Gilbert (back) and safety Sean Davis (shoulder – Labrum) have been placed on injured reserve.
Cleveland Browns Overall Defense
- Ranked 30th overall in 2018
- Ranked 17th overall in 2019
Pass coverage: The Browns’ defense is 7th best against the pass, allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 221.1 yards per matchup.
Cleveland’s defense has 4 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 26 total sacks after ten weeks.
Run coverage: The Browns are 27th best against a rushing attack, allowing opponents to run for an average of 134.9 yards per game.
Cleveland has allowed their opponents to score 221 total points this season, or 24.6 per matchup, which is 21st fewest in the NFL.
Browns Defensive Players to Watch
One of the best middle linebackers in the league plays for the Cleveland Browns, Joe Schobert, who is tied for the fifth-most tackles in the league with 82 total (4 for a loss), a sack, 2 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
Got to check out Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett, now in his third NFL season and with 9.5 sacks (T-3rd most in the NFL), 15 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles and 28 total tackles (11 for a loss).
Make sure to look for Cleveland defensive back T.J. Carrie, who has an interception, 4 passes defended, a fumble recovery and 32 total tackles (3 for a loss).
Browns Defensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 11: defensive end Olivier Vernon (knee) and safety Eric Murray (knee).
Injury notes: linebackers Christian Kirksey (pectoral) and Willie Harvey (shoulder) and defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale (calf) have been placed on injured reserve.
The Browns’ defense is better than it was last season and the Steelers’ defense is worse, but neither is far better than the other except against the pass, where Cleveland will have a slight defensive advantage over Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Pittsburgh’s punter, Jordan Berry, is in his fifth NFL season, and this year he has punted 39 times for a net average of 40.8 yards per punt, 29th best in the league.
Cleveland’s punter, Jamie Gillan, aka the “Scottish Hammer,” is in his first NFL season and he has punted 38 times so far this year for a net average of 41.5 yards per punt, which is the 21st best in the league.
Pittsburgh’s placekicker Chris Boswell is a former Pro Bowler and is in his fifth season with the Steelers.
Boswell is 18-for-19 this season, his longest a 51-yarder, and he has missed no extra point attempts (19/19).
Cleveland’s placekicker, Austin Seibert, is in his first season with the Browns after beating out last year’s starter, Greg Joseph, in the preseason.
Seibert has made 16-of-16 field goals this year, his longest a 48-yarder, and he has missed three extra-point attempts (13/16).
Pittsburgh’s most recent punt returner, wide receiver Diontae Johnson, is ranked 17th in punt return average this season.
Johnson has returned 4 punts for 33 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 8.3 yards per return, his longest for 14 yards.
Cleveland’s latest punt returner is backup running back Dontrell Hilliard, who is currently ranked T-28th in average punt return yardage.
Hilliard has returned 6 punts for 40 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per return, his longest for 18 yards.
Special Teams Advantage
Cleveland’s placekicker hasn’t missed a field goal yet, plus they have the Scottish Hammer, so the Browns will have a slight special teams advantage on Thursday night against the Steelers.
Steelers vs Browns – Final Game Analysis
Why Will the Steelers Win this Game?
The Pittsburgh Steelers can win this one if they put a lot of pressure on Baker Mayfield – he doesn’t seem to handle it well these days and will sometimes (often) give the ball up trying to make a big play instead of just tossing it to the sidelines.
If the Steelers’ can find a running game (James Conner is expected to play but he is still a bit banged up and not 100%) and if Rudolph can connect with Smith-Schuster over the Browns’ top-notch passing defense they could simply outscore whatever Cleveland manages to put up on the board.
But the key to a Steelers win in this one is for their defense to neutralize the Browns’ run game, because once that’s ineffective it becomes much easier to anticipate and defend Cleveland’s passing attack.
Why Will the Browns Win this Game?
The Cleveland Browns will win this one if they minimize penalties, turnovers and red zone field goals over touchdowns, three factors that are preventing them from finding wins in what have been very close losses.
The Browns defense has to play tight – cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams have to take out Smith-Schuster as a threat while Myles Garrett has to make sure that Rudolph is always watching out for him in the corner of both his eyes.
A big key to a Cleveland win is whether the real Baker Mayfield shows up on this nationally televised stage – angry, dangerous, accurate, and able to get the football to his playmakers and lead his team past a Steelers team that does not quite measure up talent-wise to his Browns on paper.
The Steelers vs Browns Game Goes To
Cleveland Browns by a field goal, because they are at home and they need to win out the season if they expect to play any January football, plus their superior offense will simply outscore Pittsburgh’s in front of a home crowd.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Browns 20, Steelers 17.
My prediction for the final score is Browns 22, Steelers 19.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns – Game Odds
Latest Point Spread