The Cleveland Browns have a short turnaround after their shocking 31-30 loss to the New York Jets in which they allowed the Jets to scored two touchdowns in the final 1:30 to spring an upset.
The Browns remain at home but must play Thursday night against their rival Pittsburgh Steelers, with kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.
The Steelers have their own set of problems, having scored just two offensive touchdowns in two games and dealing with the loss of star defensive end TJ Watt to a pectoral injury.
One team will get on the right track. The Browns are listed as 4.5-point favorites at Caesars Sportsbook as of Tuesday evening.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Amazon Prime Video
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Browns -4.5
Money line: Steelers +175; Browns -210
Analysis: It’s no surprise that the over/under is the lowest early-week total of the season (the 49ers-Bears from Week 1 ended at 37.5 after an inclement weather forecast drove it down). Neither team has an elite quarterback, with the Browns using Jacoby Brissett until Deshaun Watson returns from suspension and the Steelers going with retread Mitch Trubisky until they deem rookie Kenny Pickett to be ready.
Both defenses also are strengths; even with Watt out, the Steelers have a formidable unit with Cameron Heyward plugging holes on the defensive line, linebacker Alex Highsmith enjoying a strong start and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with an interception in each game so far, including one he returned for a touchdown in a win against the Bengals.
The Browns, meanwhile, were mostly solid until last week’s late collapse. Myles Garrett is still a menace at defensive end, and Pittsburgh’s makeshift offensive line could give him a chance to add to his early total of three sacks.
It’s that offensive line that also could prove the difference in a game where running game and limiting mistakes is likely to be the difference. The Steelers have run for less than 4 yards per carry in their games, while the Browns are at a healthy clip of 5.3. That edge, plus the home field and the sting of last week’s defeat, gives you a reason to bet the Browns here.
Prediction: Browns 23, Steelers 14