Pittsburgh Steelers: 3 bold predictions for Week 18 vs. Browns
The 2022 NFL regular season is coming down to a wire, so every result can seriously affect the postseason picture. With the Pittsburgh Steelers set to host the Cleveland Browns at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday, it is time for some Steelers Week 18 bold predictions.
Since its bye week, Pittsburgh has won six out of its last eight games, including its past three. Most recently, the Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens 16-13 with a last-minute touchdown from Kenny Pickett to Najee Harris.
Now, Pittsburgh is 8-8 and ninth in the AFC. The Steelers need to win and depend on other results to make it to the playoffs. Pittsburgh needs both the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins to lose or tie their games against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, respectively.
On the other side of the contest, Cleveland is currently 7-9 and last in the AFC North plus out of playoff contention. In Week 17, the Browns won 24-10 against the Washington Commanders, who were still battling for a postseason spot.
Although Cleveland does not have many aspirations left this season, it showed it can still give other teams some trouble. Since a win is a must for Pittsburgh, this division clash can bring many surprises. With that being said, here are three bold predictions for the Steelers as they face the Browns in Week 18.
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3. Pittsburgh holds Deshaun Watson to under 200 passing yards
In their previous encounter this season, the Browns won 29-17 in Week 3. However, they played with their now-backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett as Deshaun Watson was still serving his suspension.
The three-time Pro Bowler returned in Week 13, and the team is 3-2 with him as a starter. For the season, Watson is completing just 56.7% of his pass attempts for 872 yards with five touchdowns against three interceptions.
Despite the positive record, Watson has been struggling in some areas after not playing in the team’s first 11 games of the season. He has failed to surpass 200 passing yards in four opportunities. Additionally, he finished without a passing touchdown in two games.
To make matters worse for him, Pittsburgh has a solid passing defense. The Steelers allow opponents to complete just 61% of their passes, good for third-best in the NFL. With Pro Bowler outside linebacker T.J. Watt and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, Watson should have a hard time finding the best receiving option on Sunday.
The bold prediction is that Pittsburgh will hold Watson to under 200 passing yards. Should that happen, the Steelers will be in a good position to win this one.
2. Kenny Pickett throws for 250+ yards, multiple touchdowns
Similar to Cleveland, Pittsburgh had a different starting quarterback in the previous matchup. Mitch Trubisky had 207 passing yards for no touchdowns. He would score once on the ground in the loss.
Rookie Kenny Pickett took over the starting role in Week 5. Since then, the Steelers are 6-5 as opposed to 2-3 with Trubisky. The team’s 2022 first-round selection has a completion rate of 64.4% for 2,209 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions. Despite the high number of picks, he has thrown just one in the past seven weeks.
For the season, Pickett has four 200-yard performances, including a career-best 327 versus the Buffalo Bills in his first NFL start. The problem is that he has yet to pass for more than a touchdown in a game.
With so much at stake for the Steelers, they will need the best version possible from Pickett, especially through the air. The bold prediction is that he will throw for 250-plus yards and multiple touchdowns for the first time in his career.
1. Steelers do their part and defeat the Browns
All things considered, Pittsburgh still has a lot to fight for in Week 18. On the other hand, Cleveland does not have anything left to compete for in the season. The Browns do not even own their 2023 first-round pick due to the Watson trade. So, a loss would not even help them for a better draft position.
Also, the teams are just a win away from each other, meaning their level of play is not that far off.
According to FanDuel, Pittsburgh is the favorite to win this matchup. However, the spread is only -2.5. This means that some expect this to be a very close game, likely decided by one possession at most.
Considering what both organizations still have at stake, the Steelers should probably have more motivation on Sunday.
The bold prediction is that Pittsburgh will end up winning, but do not be surprised if it goes down to the final possessions. The final minutes of this game should be some of the most entertaining of the weekend, whether it is a game-winning drive by Pickett or a big stop by the Steelers’ defense.
With that result, Pittsburgh will then depend on what happens with Patriots and Dolphins in their respective Week 18 contests.
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