CLEVELAND (7-9) at PITTSBURGH (8-8)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, CBS
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Steelers by 2 1/2.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Browns 8-8; Pittsburgh 9-6-1.
SERIES RECORD: Steelers lead 77-61-1.
LAST MEETING: Browns beat Steelers 29-17 on Sept. 22, 2022, in Cleveland.
LAST WEEK: Browns beat Commanders 24-10; Steelers beat Ravens 16-13.
BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (6), PASS (22), SCORING (16).
BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (25), PASS (7), SCORING (21).
STEELERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (23), RUSH (17), PASS (24), SCORING (29).
STEELERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (7), PASS (20), SCORING (12).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Browns even, Steelers plus-3.
BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Nick Chubb is 47 yards from setting his career high for a season, and 52 from joining legendary Hall of Famer Jim Brown as the only players in Browns history to rush for 1,500 yards. Chubb had 113 yards on 23 carries in Cleveland's win in September.
STEELERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Kenny Pickett is starting to show consistent flashes of why Pittsburgh tabbed him as Ben Roethlisberger's successor in last spring's draft. Pickett is the only rookie QB in NFL history to throw last-minute game-winning touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks. His next challenge will be to do something Roethlisberger did with regularity: beat the Browns.
KEY MATCHUP: Cleveland's running game against Pittsburgh's defensive front. The Browns gashed the T.J. Watt-less Steelers for 171 yards rushing while winning at home in Week 3. Pittsburgh's run defense has been erratic at best this season, even after Watt returned from a torn left pectoral in early November. If the Browns can control the line of scrimmage the way they did in the first meeting, Cleveland could scuttle Pittsburgh's modest playoff hopes.
KEY INJURIES: Browns RT Jack Conklin (ankle) will sit out the finale and be replaced by James Hudson. ... Browns CB Denzel Ward (shoulder) missed practice time during the week and is questionable. ... Steelers LB Myles Jack (groin) was limited in practice during the week. CB James Pierre began the week in the concussion protocol. S Minkah Fitzpatrick is dealing with an ankle injury that limited his practice time, but is not expected to affect his availability.
SERIES NOTES: Pittsburgh has dominated since 1999, going 37-9-1. ... Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is 24-6-1 against the Browns. ... Cleveland hasn't won the season series since 1988. ... The Browns have lost their past 18 regular-season games at Pittsburgh, last winning 33-13 in 2003 behind quarterback Tim Couch. ... The Browns won a wild-card game at Pittsburgh in 2020. ... Pittsburgh has finished ahead of Cleveland in the standings every season since the Browns re-entered the league in 1999. A win by Cleveland would end that streak.
STATS AND STUFF: This is as close as the Browns get to the playoffs in another disappointing season. With a win, Cleveland can wreck Pittsburgh's postseason hopes, sweep the season series for the first time in 34 years and match its record from last season. ... The Steelers have won five of six to get to stay mathematically alive for the playoffs despite a 2-6 start. Pittsburgh can reach the postseason with a win and losses by Miami and New England. ... A win or a tie would also stretch Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's streak of non-losing seasons to start a career to 16. ... Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is expected to retain his job, but may have to make changes to his staff. ... Defensive coordinator Joe Woods has been on the hot seat most of the season after his unit underperformed while dealing with injuries. ... Browns QB Deshaun Watson threw three touchdown passes in the second half and posted a 122.5 rating at Washington, his strongest performance since returning from an 11-game suspension for sexual misconduct allegations. ... Watson is 3-2 as a starter for Cleveland. ... Watson passed for 264 yards in his only game against Pittsburgh for Houston in 2020. ... Browns DE Jadeveon Clowney will not make the trip after being sent home Friday following his critical comments about the team and coaching staff in an interview. ... Browns Pro Bowl DE Myles Garrett needs 1 1/2 sacks to break his single-season record (16) set in 2021. Garrett has only two sacks in his past six games against the Steelers. ... Browns WR Amari Cooper needs 81 yards to set a personal season high. He had 1,189 for Dallas in 2019. ... Pittsburgh's second-half surge has been fueled by a somewhat easier schedule and a sharp increase in production in the running game. The Steelers have surpassed 100 yards rushing in eight of their past nine games, going 6-3 over that stretch. RB Najee Harris is third in the NFL in yards rushing (593) over the past eight weeks. ... Pittsburgh is 12-3 in regular-season finales under Tomlin, the most by any team since he was hired in 2007. ... The Steelers are 15-1 all time against the Browns in home regular-season finales. ... Pickett's decision-making has taken a significant step forward over the second half of the season. Pickett threw eight interceptions over his first five games. He's thrown just one in his seven appearances. ... Steelers WR Diontae Johnson has 84 receptions on the season, but is still searching for his first touchdown of the season. He had at least five touchdowns in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. ... Pittsburgh LB Alex Highsmith has a career-best 12 sacks this season. Highsmith will likely become the first player other than Watt to lead the Steelers in sacks since Cam Heyward had 12 in 2017, Watt's rookie season. ... Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth is the first tight end in team history with 60 receptions in each of his first two seasons. ... Pittsburgh K Chris Boswell is finishing up the worst season of his eight-year career. Boswell, the second-highest-paid kicker in the league behind Baltimore's Justin Tucker, has made just 18 of 26 field-goal attempts this season.
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