Browns vs. Steelers: time, live stream, how to watch, key matches, “Friday Night Football” selection

This week’s edition of “Friday Night Football” features an old-school competition in North Asia, with the Cleveland Browns hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams are coming off frustrating losses a week ago, having racked up last-minute wins in the first week.

Brown blew up 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 is looking to get back into the winning streak and jump, at least, momentarily, to number one in the division, and hopefully establish some kind of foundation upon which to run to the playoffs.

Who will return to his winning ways? We’ll find out soon enough. Before we break down the match, here’s how to watch this evening’s competition.

how to watch

Date: Thursday, September 22 | time: 8:20 PM ET
Site: First Energy Stadium (Cleveland)
Stream: Amazon Prime Video
Follow: CBS Sports . app
Prospect: Brown -4.5, O/U 38.5

When the Steelers have the ball

Pittsburgh’s crime is in big trouble. Through two games, the Steelers managed just 510 yards, the 30th in the NFL. On a per-game basis, they actually rank 31st. They’re 26 in leadership, 29 in EPA for Tru Media per game, and 22 in offensive DVOA for Football Outsiders.

Most of the problems start along the offensive line, which is where things are pretty dire. They simply cannot generate any impulse at all in a running game. They have one of the highest runs rates in the league (50 percent), and those runs averaged just 2.9 yards per lunge. Despite facing the eight-man boxes in only 18 percent of the run, the Steelers averaged just 1.30 yards before calling on each attempt. In plays where Nagy Harris was the ball carrier (as opposed to Mitchell Trubesky, Jaylene Warren, or Chase Claypool), this number was worse—only 0.44 per attempt.

But Harris, who dealt with Lisfranc’s injury during training camp and injured his foot again in Week 1, isn’t looking very healthy. Of the 44 players who have made at least 15 dribble attempts this season, he is ranked 32nd in tackle avoided rate and 31 in yards after touchdown per attempt. Last season, he ranked seventh in tackle avoidance rate and 21st in yards after contact among 53 players with 100 or more carryovers.

The Browns have only had 3.77 yards per lunge so far this season, and a ridiculous 0.33 yards before calling. The idea of ​​the Steelers achieving rapid success in this game, given how things have gone so far this year, seems far fetched. And that puts the game in Trubisky’s hands, and that’s…not great.

Trubisky is 42 of 71 (59.2 percent) for 362 yards (5.2 per attempt), two touchdowns, and one interception so far this season. This is despite a below-average pressing rate (28 percent) and one of the lowest blitz rates in the league (20 percent). He’s been thrown into a narrow window for 22.5 percent of his passes, according to NFL.com’s Next Generation stats, and he’s been off target with his shots 16.7 percent of the time, according to Tru Media. He failed to find contact with explosive starter George Pickens, who was on the field for 78 percent of the team’s offensive shots but was only targeted five times. His numbers with other pass catchers aren’t much better: Claypool has eight receptions for just 44 yards on 12 goals. Deontay Johnson dropped 8.6 yards per reception. Pat Freiermuth’s catching rate has dropped to 52.9 percent (from 75.9 a year ago).

This is not a defensible position due to an offense, and there is no reason to expect it to improve any time soon. It’s Beckett’s time, perhaps as soon as tonight if Trubisky struggles. With a small farewell ahead of the team’s Week 4 game against the Jets, there is perhaps no better chance of making the substitution.

If Trubisky (or Pickett) can find a way to try to push the ball down the court, there may actually be some opportunities available. Cleveland allowed more completions on 20-plus air-yard throws than any team in the NFL except the Jaguars, despite playing against Baker Mayfield and Joe Flacco. Getting the ball on the field usually requires pocket time, however, the more time in the pocket, the more opportunity the defense has to generate pressure. Cleveland ranks seventh in the NFL in pressing rate so far this season, with Miles Jarrett leading. Trubisky has always been prone to pressing hard, preferring to clear the ball quickly and in short areas rather than taking his chances by darting in his face. For these reasons, it seems likely that he will continue to target under throws, thus creating few – if any – explosive plays.

When the brown has the ball

As expected, the Browns ran the ball early and often, and with great success. The Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt duo are one of the NFL’s top teams, running the Browns to 5.28 yards per carry despite facing the eight-man boxes at the second-highest in the NFL (33 percent of the load, per Tru Media) . They have a top 12 in the NFL for 15 yards or more, which is good for a high league share of 15.8 percent of their total campaigns.

The ability to make explosives in a running game is of particular interest, as the scrolling game is more of a unit type that relies on possession, moving chains in the moment, with Jacoby Brissett under center. Pittsburgh has done a solid job against racing so far this season, but has also played against two relatively weak offensive lines (Cincinnati, New England) compared to the one it faces against Cleveland Thursday night. Without TJ Watt, the Steelers might be more vulnerable to a ground attack than they have been so far, now that he’s been tasked with taking on one of the league’s best blocking units.

Of course, the Steelers aren’t slack up front — even sans Watt. They still bring Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alwalu, Larry Ogunjobi, Chris Wormley, Alex Highsmith, and even Malik Reed to the table. They can still get the quarterback and bring him to the floor or simply keep him trapped in a pocket, where he will have to deal with extreme pressure.

The Browns will certainly try to get Jacoby Brissett on the move with play-action and bootleg concepts, with the only major court perimeter they have at the moment being Amari Cooper. An elite athlete, David Njoku has seen his hit rate spike after taking a major off-season contract, but he hasn’t been more involved in the passing game yet. It’s tempting to say this is going to be a good week to finally take off, but he may have to deal with Minkah Fitzpatrick’s focus throughout most of the evening. Fitzpatrick got off to a great start to the season with two interceptions in as many weeks, covering the back of the field like any safety in football. Any pass from Brissett into the deep half of the field is subject to selection if it is off target.

In the end, it looks like this game will end up being a matter of confidence as attack can have any measure of success in moving the ball. Given the relative strength of Cleveland’s running game compared to any aspect of Pittsburgh’s offensive, that’s how we should fall back.

Prediction: Browns 20, Steelers 13

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