Steelers vs Browns Week 3: Can the Browns Defensive Secondary Fix Their Communication Issues?

  • All four AFC North teams posted a Week 2 loss, and the Browns and Steelers are 1-1
  • Both defenses need help – Pittsburgh is sans TJ Watt and Cleveland’s secondary is off
  • Watch Steelers vs Browns on Thurs, September 22, 2022; 20:15 PM ET on Prime Video

Steelers vs Browns Odds

Odds taken from Caesars Sportsbook. Click on the links below to head to the sportsbook and place your bet.

Steelers vs Browns Odds Point Spread Points Total Money Line
Pittsburgh Steelers +4.5 (-110)
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O40.5 (-110)
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+180
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Cleveland Browns -4.5 (-110)
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U40.5 (-110)
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-220
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Steelers vs Browns Pick

There is zero love lost between these two divisional rivals so prepare for some big hits and clever play calling as the Browns cover the spread after ‘fixing’ their defense.

Browns -3.5 (-110)

Steelers vs Browns Predictions Jacoby Brissett

All four teams in the AFC North posted a Week 2 loss and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are both 1-1, these longtime divisional rivals whose fans despise each other are expected to clash hard in this one in front of a Cleveland fanbase ready for a hometown win.

Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers new QB Mitch Trubisky (21/33, 168 yds, TD, INT) proved he was up for the job as he targeted WR Chase Claypool (4 recs, 26 yds) and TE Pat Freiermuth (4 recs, 22 yds, TD) effectively, but the defense is without LB T.J. Watt (pectoral) which hurts.

For two weeks now the Cleveland Browns secondary has had communication issues so egregious that opposing WRs find themselves wide open and DC Joe Woods finds himself on the hot seat, but at least backup QB Jacoby Brissett (22/27, 229 yds, TD, INT) is playing well.

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns Predictions

Can the Steelers Defense Still Dominate Without LB T.J. Watt?

Last season’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt is out for at least 4 games thanks to a pectoral injury he suffered in the fourth quarter last week against the Cincinnati Bengals creating a hole in the Steeler’s defensive rush scheme that will have to be filled by his teammates.

Fortunately for Steelers DC Teryl Austin, there are plenty of solid QB rushers left in the lineup including DT Cameron Heyward (sack, 3 QB hits) as well as LB Alex Highsmith (3 sacks, 5 QB hits) who have had no trouble getting after Joe Burrow in Week 1 and Mac Jones in Week 2.

The trouble the Steelers might run into in Week 3 is a Browns offensive front line that is ranked number one in the league so far after allowing only 2 sacks in two games, so for Pittsburgh to earn sacks their secondary must cover so watch for FC Minkah Fitzpatrick to also step up.

Can the Browns Defensive Secondary Fix Their Communication Issues?

For both of the Browns games in 2022 and during last season, the secondary has displayed some glaring communication mix-ups that have resulted in open receivers and easy TDs that almost cost them the win in Week 1 and ended up losing the game for Cleveland in Week 2.

That failure falls on the shoulders of DC Joe Woods and some fans are already calling for his job, but chances are he will still be there for Thursday’s matchup after he works out whatever ails his secondary including a better comm-plan for defensive co-captain MLB Anthony Walker.

The Browns’ pass defense is ranked 26th in the league after two weeks but last season under Woods is was a Top-5 unit, so more than likely those problems will be ironed out before Thursday because if the same thing happens again the front office might not be so patient.

Steelers Key Player: (RB) Najee Harris

This is Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris’s second pro season, and he will have a tough time topping his rookie numbers from 2021 with a league-leading 381 touches for 1,667 total yards from scrimmage and 10 TDs, unreal production from a veteran back let alone a first-year player.

In college at Alabama, Harris was a 2x CFP National Champion and he was a Pro Bowler during his first NFL season, the 6’ 1” 242-pound powerhouse originally from California now comfortable playing in the brutal climes of Pittsburgh averaging 4.3 yards per touch.

For the Steelers to beat this Browns team at home, Harris will have to have a dual threat outing that keeps DC Joe Woods’ defense guessing, and that also goes for his backfield backups – rookie Jaylen Warren and veteran Benny Snell Jr. – all part of OC Matt Canada’s RB crew.

Browns Key Player: (QB) Jacoby Brissett

The Cleveland Browns starting QB Deshaun Watson is suspended for the first 11 games so backup Jacoby Brissett has become the main man under center, and it took him the first week to get adjusted to his new set of targets but in Week 2 he balled out until the INT in the end.

Brissett’s respectable Week 2 numbers (22/27, 229 yds, TD, INT) are proof that he can get the job done and it seems as though his connections with WR Amari Cooper (9 rec, 101 yds, TD) and TEs Harrison Bryant (3 rec, 45 yds) and David Njoku (3 rec, 32 yds) are gradually evolving,.

A nice surprise that showed up in Week 2 was the ability of Brissett to use his legs to scramble posting 6 carries for 43 yards with his longest run a 21-yarder, this mobility is a plus that gives the already frightening Browns rushing attack (Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt) even more depth.

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How to Watch Steelers vs Browns

What Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns
Where FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio
When Thursday, September 22, 2022; 8:15 PM ET
How to watch Prime Video

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Mike Lukas

Expert on NFL

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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