This Monday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. To help preview a few topics from the Bengals’ perspective, we reached out to Jarrett Bailey from Behind the Steel Curtain and exchanged five questions with him.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 2-point favorites against the Steelers.
Chris: “The Steelers’ run defense already seemed to be a little suspect, and now Cam Heyward is out for awhile. Is Pittsburgh’s run defense now considered a liability after years of it being a strength?”
Jarrett: “The Steelers run defense has been bad for a while now. They were 18th in EPA against the run last season. Christian McCaffrey just ran for 160 yards at seven yards per carry. Now, with no Heyward, guys like rookie Keeanu Benton, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Demarvin Leal, and Larry Ogunjobi will have to really step up.”
Chris: “How was Kenny Pickett’s Week 1 performance against the San Francisco 49ers?”
Jarrett: “He was bad. He had 10 bad throws, according to Pro Football Reference- that led the league in Week 1. He threw two ugly interceptions, he should have thrown a third, but Fred Warner dropped a ball that Pickett gift wrapped for him. He missed a lot of opportunities, too. He sailed a pass to Diontae Johnson that would have gone for big yards on a third down. He threw a ball behind Johnson in the red zone that would have seen Diontae walk into the end zone. George Pickens was open on a post early in the game and Pickett didn’t throw the ball before pressure got there. He was abysmal.”
Chris: “The Steelers drafted OT Broderick Jones and CB Joey Porter Jr. with their first two picks of this year’s draft, but neither seems to have a starting or rotational role yet — tell us about their situations, and if any of the rookie draft picks had an impressive camp.”
Jarrett: “Both guys had their moments in camp and preseason. Jones struggled in pass protection, but seemed to get better as exhibition play went on. Porter and Pickens went back and forth all camp, and he had an interception in his first preseason game against the Bills. Jones will likely be starting with Chuks Okorafor dealing with a concussion, and Porter will hopefully have a larger role after the embarrassing display we saw from the secondary against the 49ers.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player who Browns fans may not have heard of, but who could have an impact on this Monday’s game.”
Jarrett: “If Keeanu Benton carries over his impressive camp and preseason performances into the regular season, he’ll be a big help in filling Cam Heyward’s shoes. He was a second-round pick out of Wisconsin in April, and the Steelers took him to basically take the reins from Heyward when the time comes. If he plays well, Browns fans will notice because the run game won’t be doing as well as expected.”
Chris: “The Browns are early favorites to beat the Steelers on Monday (Browns -2 as of this question, per DraftKings Sportsbook). Who would you pick against the spread?”
Jarrett: “The Steelers have started 0-2 just twice since 2004, and those seasons were 2013 and 2019. Not to take anything away from the Browns, but the Bengals didn’t have a camp or preseason with their quarterback, and we saw the end result of that. I think the Steelers win a low-scoring game by a field goal.”
Thanks again to Jarrett for taking the time to answer my questions.