The Cleveland Browns road to victory in Pittsburgh next week and a 2-0 record to start the season just got that much easier.
Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported on Monday, September 11, that Pittsburgh Steelers defender Cameron Heyward will miss the team’s matchup with the Browns on Monday Night Football (September 18), and likely several games beyond that, due to a groin injury.
“#Steelers six-time Pro Bowl DL and co-defensive captain Cam Heyward is expected to miss multiple weeks with a groin injury suffered on Sunday against the #49ers, sources tell me and @RapSheet,” Garafolo posted on X. “A trip to IR is likely and all options are on the table, including surgery to repair.”
Injured Browns Offensive Line Faces Fewer Problems with Cam Heyward Sidelined
Heyward, a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle, has spent the entirety of his 13-year NFL career with the Steelers, frequently causing problems for Browns offensive linemen over that span.
Equally ferocious against the run and as a pass-rusher, per advanced analytics provided by Pro Football Focus, a talented Browns offensive line would have had its hands full trying to block Heyward and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt (2021).
Browns Open Week as 2-Point Road Favorites Against Steelers
The Steelers figure to come out firing on all cylinders Monday night after an embarrassing Week-1 loss at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners travelled to Pittsburgh and topped the Steelers by a score of 30-7.
Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy looked brilliant coming off an elbow injury in last season’s NFC Championship Game, completing 19-of-29 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and a 111.3 rating. San Francisco’s rushing attack was just as dominant, led by RB Christian McCaffrey who put up 152 yards on 22 carries (6.9 yards per attempt) and scored a touchdown.
The Browns, on the other hand, were spectacular in their season opener, crushing the Bengals by a score of 24-3. Cleveland defenders logged a combined 10 QB hits, four pass breakups and two sacks, while the rushing attack amassed a cumulative 206 yards.
Considering the difference in outcomes against two opponents who each fell just one game shy of the Super Bowl in 2022, the Browns figured to be favorites heading into Pittsburgh on Monday night. While that is the case, oddsmakers don’t see the contest ending up as lopsided as Week-1 results would suggest.
Cleveland opened the week as 2-point favorites over the Steelers, per Draft Kings Sportsbook. Even a multiple-point spread in the Browns’ favor is impressive after Cleveland finished last season 7-10, while Pittsburgh won six of its last seven matchups, including four in a row to close out the year. The Steelers bested Cleveland 28-14 in Week 18 to seal a winning record, though they fell short of a playoff berth.
Home-field advantage is distinctly meaningful in the NFL, typically affording the home team a built-in advantage of 2-3 points. As such, the odds for Monday’s contest indicate that the Browns are 4-5 points better than the Steelers on a neutral field.