brown vs. Steelers: Time, live streaming, how to watch, key match-up, choice for “Thursday Night Football”

The Week 3 edition of “Thursday Night Football” features an old-school rivalry with AFC North, as the Cleveland Browns are home to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both of these teams reported discouraging losses a week ago, having claimed victories in the final moments of the game in week 1.

The Browns scored a double-digit lead in the final two minutes of their game against the Jets, while the Steelers barely moved the ball all day against the Patriots. Each of these teams are looking to get back into the win column and jump, at least, momentarily, to first place in the division and hopefully establish some sort of base on which to run in the playoffs.

Which of them will return to their winning path? We will find out soon enough. Before analyzing the match, here’s how you can watch tonight’s contest.

How to watch

Date: Thursday, September 22 | time: 8:20 pm ET
Position: First Energy Stadium (Cleveland)
Flow: Amazon Prime video
To follow: CBS Sport App
Chance: Brown -4.5, O / U 38.5

When the Steelers have the ball

The Pittsburgh attack is in dire straits. In two games, the Steelers only managed 510 yards, the 30th in the NFL. Based on the game, they actually rank 31st. I’m 26th in points per drive, 29th in Tru Media’s EPA per game, and 22nd in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA.

Most problems start along the offensive line, where things are pretty terrible. They simply cannot generate any kind of thrust in the running game. They have one of the highest first down percentages in the league (50%) and on those played they average just 2.9 yards per run. Despite facing eight-man boxes in only 18% of runs, the Steelers averaged just 1.30 yards before contact per attempt. In games where Najee Harris was the ball carrier (as opposed to Mitchell Trubisky, Jaylen Warren or Chase Claypool), that figure is even worse: just 0.44 per attempt.

But Harris, who sustained an injury at Lisfranc during the retirement and injured his foot again in the first week, does not appear to be in good health. Among the 44 players with at least 15 striker attempts this season, he is 32nd in tackle avoided percentage and 31st in yards after contact per attempt. Last season, he ranked seventh in tackle avoided rate and 21st in yards after contact between 53 players with 100 carries or more.

The Browns have so far produced just 3.77 yards per run this season and a ridiculous 0.33 before contact. The idea of ​​the Steelers finding rash success in this game, given how far things have gone this year, seems rather far-fetched. And that puts the game in Trubisky’s hands, which … isn’t that great.

Trubisky is 42 of 71 (59.2%) for 362 yards (5.2 per attempt), two touchdowns and an interception so far this season. This is despite a below-average pressure rate (28%) and one of the league’s lowest blitz rates (20%). According to Tru Media, he was put in a tight window on 22.5% of his passes, according to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, and was off target with his shots 16.7% of the time, according to Tru. Average. He failed to find a connection with explosive rookie George Pickens, who was on the pitch for 78% of the team’s attacking shots, but was only targeted five times. His numbers with the other pass-catchers aren’t much better: Claypool has eight receptions for just 44 yards across 12 targets. Diontae Johnson is down 8.6 yards per reception. Pat Freiermuth’s catch rate dropped to 52.9 percent (from 75.9 a year ago).

This is not a sustainable situation for an offense and there is no reason to expect it will improve anytime soon. Pickett’s time is coming, maybe tonight if Trubisky struggles. With a mini-goodbye before the team’s week 4 game against the Jets, there’s probably no better time to make the switch.

If Trubisky (or Pickett) can find a way to try and push the ball onto the court, there may actually be some opportunities available. Cleveland has allowed more completions on throws of over 20 air yards than any NFL team except the Jaguars, despite playing against Baker Mayfield and Joe Flacco. Getting the ball onto the court typically takes time in the hole, however, and the more time in the hole, the greater the opportunity for the defense to generate pressure. Cleveland is in seventh place in the NFL by pressure rate so far this season, with Myles Garrett in the lead. Trubisky has long been extremely susceptible to pressure and would much rather get rid of the ball quickly and in short areas than take the risk with runners in his face. For these reasons, he seems much more likely to continue targeting the shots below, and thus to create few, if any, explosive plays.

When the Browns have the ball

Predictably, the Browns threw the ball early and often, and with great success. Nick Chubb / Kareem Hunt duo are one of the best in the NFL and have led the Browns to 5.28 yards per carry despite facing eight-man boxes at the second-highest rate in the NFL (33% carry, according to Tru Media). They have the best 12 runs in the NFL of 15 yards or more, good for a 15.8% share of their total.

The ability to generate explosives in the running game is particularly important, because at the moment the passing game is more of a type of unit based on the possession and movement of chains, with Jacoby Brissett at the center. Pittsburgh has done a great job against running so far this season, but has also played against two relatively weak offensive lines (Cincinnati, New England) compared to the one they face Thursday night against Cleveland. Without TJ Watt, the Steelers may be more susceptible to ground attack than they have been so far now that they’re tasked with taking on one of the league’s best running blocking units.

Of course, the Steelers are not lazy on the front line, even without Watt. They still bring Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alulu, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, Alex Highsmith, and even Malik Reed to the table. They can still chase the quarterback and bring him to the ground or just keep him boxed in his pocket, where he will face a lot of pressure.

The Browns will definitely be looking to get Jacoby Brissett moving with action and bootleg concepts, with the only big downfield perimeter they have at the moment is Amari Cooper. Tight end David Njoku, an elite athlete, has seen his snap rate increase after landing a big contract this off-season, but he has yet to be significantly more involved in the passing game. It’s tempting to say this would be a good week to finally get him started, but he may have to face Minkah Fitzpatrick’s focus for much of the evening. Fitzpatrick started the season fantastically with two interceptions in as many weeks and covers as much the back of the pitch as any safety in football. Any pass from Brissett into his deep half of the court is likely to be caught if he is remotely off target.

Ultimately, this game is likely to boil down to a question of trust in which offense can have any measure of success in moving the ball. Given the relative strength of Cleveland’s running game compared to any aspect of the Pittsburgh attack, this is how we need to lean.

Prediction: Browns 20, Steelers 13

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