MNF Preview: Steelers host Browns in Potential Last Home Game for Big Ben

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger attempting a throw.

The Cleveland Browns (7–8) will travel to Heinz field tonight and take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (7–7–1). The Steelers are mathematically still in the playoff hunt, but they will need some help next week. They will be showing all they got tonight as they desperately try to keep their postseason dreams alive. The Browns on the other hand, have already been eliminated from the playoffs.

The Steelers are also fighting for someone else, Ben Roethlisberger. This could be the final game at Heinz Field for the veteran QB. This game should be an entertaining one; it pits two similar strength teams against each other, and it holds historical value as Big Ben’s last home contest.

Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield escaping the pocket.

The Browns offense has not found any offensive consistency or success this season, placing 19th in PPG this season and averaging a subpar 15.2 points per game over their last 5. What was believed to be a super bowl contender team just has not lived up to expectations. QB Baker Mayfield has not been anywhere near an elite level, only throwing for 300+ yards twice this season, and hasn’t had a passer rating above 100 since Week 9. Last week, he collapsed with 4 INTs versus the Packers. Against the Steelers, he averages just 185 yards through the air. The run game has been solid, with the 1–2 punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt allowing the Browns to have the 3rd best rushing offense in the league. Chubb ran for 126 yards and a TD on 17 carries his last time out, and has ran into the end zone in his last 2 games. The Browns defense has been very solid, boasting the 7th best overall in the NFL and only allowing 17.6 PPG over the last 5 games. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney have proved to be a solid pass rush combo, totaling 20 sacks. The Cleveland defense should keep Pittsburgh from scoring left and right, but the offense won’t be able to pull their weight. I honestly don’t see this Cleveland offense scoring more than 14 points because of the variance and struggles at QB. If they want to win this game, they will need Baker Mayfield to step up and support his running core.

Pittsburgh RB Najee Harris trying to find a hole in the defense.

Pittsburgh is coming off of an embarrassing 10–36 blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. At one point in the game, they were down 30–0. That’s not going to cut it if you want to make the postseason. The Steelers walk into this game really without any standout stats. They are 23rd in points allowed this season and 21st in points scored. Big Ben has been kind of average this year as well, only throwing for 300+ yards twice this season. He’ll be looking for his top two WRs tonight, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, who account for more than half of Roethlisberger’s passing yards. Rookie RB Najee Harris has had a nice 1st year, accumulating 91 rushing yards plus a TD the first time he played the Browns this season. Harris is used in the passing game quite a lot, as he is 3rd on the team with 422 receiving yards and averages over 5 targets a game. OLB TJ Watt has led the way for this Steelers defense with 17.5 sacks on the season. However, the Steelers do have the 2nd worst run defense in the NFL, which will be a problem against the dominant Browns ground game. The Steelers won the first matchup between these two teams in Week 8, and I don’t see anything different now that would cause a different result from occurring tonight.


Right now, the Steelers are 2.5 point favorites and the total stands at 43 points. Despite Pittsburgh’s rushing defense struggles, I believe their defense can stop Baker Mayfield through the air and hold up enough to eek out a win here. Cleveland’s struggling offense will not break out of their funk tonight and Baker will extend his streak of 8 games below 300 passing yards to 9. The Steelers are desperate for a victory here to keep their playoff hopes alive, and Big Ben’s final game at Heinz Field will motivate him to give whatever fight is left. I’m pretty confident the Steelers will win and cover the 2.5 point spread. The O/U is tricky, but the Browns defense will do enough to keep the Steelers from running up the score. Cleveland’s run first offense will burn time off the clock whenever they drive downfield. TJ Watt will pressure Mayfield tonight and will most likely force some turnovers that will further keep the score low. I’d take the under, but with not as much confidence as the spread pick.

Stay tuned for my recap of this game tonight. Thanks again for reading, and make sure to sign up for my email list here, so I can let you know whenever I post an article.

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