Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Predictions 12-01-2019

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns are meeting again, just two-plus weeks after an ugly brawl that left three players suspended and 33 paying fines. The two principals from that altercation likely won't see the field when the Steelers host the Browns on Sunday.

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Cleveland's 21-7 home win over Pittsburgh in Week 11 was marred by an ugly brawl that included Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripping off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's helmet and swinging it at him, leading to an indefinite suspension for Garrett that was upheld upon appeal and a fine for Rudolph. Garrett won't be around for the rematch and Rudolph will be on the sideline after he was benched in favor of backup Devlin "Duck" Hodges in last week's 16-10 victory over lowly Cincinnati. "We met as a staff, we decided that we're going to start Duck this week," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin told reporters. "Really, the decision is clear for us. ... I thought he provided us a spark in-game. I'm hopeful that he's capable of continuing to provide that spark as we step into this stadium." Pittsburgh and Cleveland are both fighting for a wild-card spot and the winner of Sunday's matchup will have the upper hand in a tight race that features five teams within one game of the No. 6 slot in the AFC.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Browns -1 O/U: 39

ABOUT THE BROWNS (5-6): Cleveland thrust itself back into the race with wins in three straight games and enjoyed its best offensive day of the season in a 41-24 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins at home last week. Quarterback Baker Mayfield owns seven touchdown passes and one interception in the last three games and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. snapped a string of eight straight games without a TD reception in the win over Miami, and coach Freddie Kitchens is trying to make sure the outside noise doesn't distract from the progress. "I want them to go in with one thing and one thing only on their minds, and that is to do their job, and anything that overshadows that in any way is not acceptable and it is not the best for the team," Kitchens told reporters. "I want guys to show up ready to do their job. All of that other stuff is just fluff. It is just fluff to give people things to talk about leading up to Sunday."

ABOUT THE STEELERS (6-5): Rudolph threw four interceptions in the loss at Cleveland and was 8-of-16 for 85 yards and a pick before being replaced against the Bengals, while Hodges threw for 118 yards and the team's lone touchdown against Cincinnati. "You'll make more out of Duck's contributions than need be, but so be it. It comes with the position," Tomlin told reporters. "They get too much credit at times, and they get too much blame at times. They all understand the nature of that, just like I understand the nature of the criticism and things that come with my position." Hodges could again be without the services of running back James Conner (shoulder) and wide receiver JuJu Schuster-Smith (concussion, knee), who aren't practicing this week and are officially questionable.


1. Steelers CB Artie Burns (knee) did not practice Wednesday and is questionable.

2. Browns OT Greg Robinson was placed in the concussion protocol on Wednesday and is questionable.

3. Cleveland is looking for its first win at Pittsburgh since 2003.

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Last Injuries

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • David DeCastro

    day-to-day | questionable

    DeCastro has sat out the previous two games with a knee injury, and it is unclear if he will play against the Texans in Week 3.

  • Stefen Wisniewski

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Wisniewski has hit the injured reserve list with a pectoral injury, and there is no timetable for return.

  • Zach Banner

    I-R | I-R

    Banner is on the injured reserve list with a torn right ACL.

  • Stephon Tuitt

    Prob Sun | probable

    Tuitt is dealing with an Achilles injury, but it is anticipated that he will be available against the Broncos on Sunday.

  • Alejandro Villanueva

    Prob Sun | probable

    Villanueva is recuperating from his illness, indicating that he will be good to go for Sunday's tilt versus the Broncos.

  • Javon Hargrave

    Prob Sun | probable

    Hargrave missed the last game with a minor pectoral strain, but he will probably be available for Sunday's contest against the Rams.

  • Le'Veon Bell

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Bell has been moved to the injured reserve list with a hamstring injury, and it is uncertain how much time he will need to heal.

  • James Conner

    Prob Sun | probable

    Conner exited the last game with a left ankle sprain, but it is anticipated he will line up Sunday versus the Broncos.

Cleveland Browns

  • Ricky Seals-Jones

    day-to-day | questionable

    Seals-Jones has missed the past two games due to a right leg injury, and it is unclear if he will be active for Week 3 against the Ravens.

  • Jacob Phillips

    day-to-day | questionable

    Phillips sat out the last game due to a knee injury, and it is unknown if he will face the Washington Football Team during Week 3.

  • Olivier Vernon

    day-to-day | questionable

    Veronon was held out of the previous game with an abdominal injury, and it is uncertain if he will play Week 3 against the Washington Football Team.

  • Greedy Williams

    day-to-day | questionable

    Williams has missed the past two games due to a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will be available against the Washington Football Team in Week 3.

  • Adrian Clayborn

    day-to-day | questionable

    Clayborn left the previous game with a hip injury, and his status for Week 3 versus the Washington Football Team is in question.

  • Jack Conklin

    day-to-day | questionable

    Conklin was absent from the lineup during the last game with injuries to his ankle and finger. It is undetermined if he will line up Week 3 against the Washington Football Team.

  • Kevin Johnson

    Upper Body
    Out indefinitely | out

    Johnson suffered a lacerated liver, and he is without a definitive timetable for recovery.

  • David Njoku

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Njoku has been designated for the injured reserve list due to a sprained MCL in his knee. It is unknown when he will get back on the field.