Steelers vs. Browns NFL Week 8 Picks and Predictions

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Nick Chubb #24 of the Cleveland Browns. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

It’s a sign of how quickly things can change in the NFL that the AFC North is upside-down, the Bengals sit atop with the Browns and Steelers currently 3rd and 4th in the division.

The Steelers had their bye last week and should be healthier than they have for most of the season with extended rest while the Browns played Thursday night so have a mini-bye themselves and will hope for players to get healthy. The best online bookmakers have the Browns at just over a field goal favorite while the total is a low 42.5.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

Sunday, October 31, 2021 – 1:00 PM EDT at FirstEnergy Stadium

Will Ben Look Better?

It’s been a rough year for Ben Roethlisberger at QB for the Steelers, he took a pay cut to re-sign for them over the summer and you’ve got to think they’re regretting that decision now. His numbers don’t look too bad but when you realize that a lot of his completions are within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage you quickly realize how they’re playing.

Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson are levels with 34 receptions apiece in this offense. A lot of dump-offs and a lot of deep shots to Diontae Johnson is pretty much their entire offense so far this year, and that’s despite Johnson missing a couple of games through injury, Juju is out for the year but Chase Claypool can take the ball home from anywhere and rookie TE Pat Friermuth has been getting work with Juju out.

The offensive line is the main issue as Ben is having to get rid of the ball quicker than most other QBs in the league. It was re-invented over the off-season and hasn’t settled so far this year, although recent games have enabled them to get the run game going at least which has helped all facets of the offense.

TJ Watt returning for the defensive line has been essential in them turning around their season as well, he is up there with Aaron Donald as the best defensive players sitting 3rd in sacks from just 5 games this season, the partnership with Alex Highsmith is up there for best in the league. It’s that defense that has kept their total under in all but one game this season.

Can the Browns Overcome Their Injuries?

A solid performance on Thursday night led a beaten-up Browns side to a win over the Broncos and they’ll need more of that good coaching to win in this game. They’re on a mini-bye coming into this game where they’ll be looking for the team to get healthier.

I don’t think they’ll have Baker Mayfield back at QB as he recovers from a busted shoulder. He will definitely want to return but the best thing for the team may well be to give him further rest and not risk something that becomes more serious. So I think it will be Case Keenum starting under center again, luckily he’s one of the best backups in the league so it’s not falling completely off a cliff.

Injured quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates. Emilee Chinn/Getty Images/AFP

It sounds like they’ll have Nick Chubb returning at running back though after missing last week. That game showed the benefits of great coaching as D’Ernest Johnson carried the ball 22 times for 146 yards as they ground out the win. They will be without Hunt, so it may well be Johnson sharing the Hunt role with Demetric Felton.

They welcomed back Jarvis Landry who immediately became the target leader in the passing game while Odell Beckham is still struggling to really get going in the Cleveland offense catching only 2 of his 6 targets. The tight ends may get a lot of work as they tend to with backup QBs, so looks for Hooper and Njoku to have good games.

Do Cleveland Keep Up Their Chase for the AFC North?

AFC North games are generally quite tight and while the Steelers are getting healthier the Browns are without a couple of key players. The key to beating the Steelers though is slowing the pass rush and welcoming Jack Conklin back on the offensive line should help that.

I would have to lean to the Steelers covering the spread but I think this will be a heavy run game as both teams try to keep the ball out of their QBs hands, so I’ll take the under on my NFL picks.

NFL PickUNDER 42.5 points at -108 with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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UNDER 42.5 points -108
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