When it comes to division games, I often feel the venue, as well as whether it is the first or second meeting, are vitally important. After the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns locked horns in Week 1 in Cleveland, the two teams will meet up again at Heinz Field in Week 8, in hopes of actually crowning a winner this time around.
With the game being played in the friendly confines of Heinz Field, and many drastic differences between the two teams, nothing is certain when it comes to predicting the winner.
This will be the first time Baker Mayfield will not only play in Pittsburgh, but the first time the Steelers will experience playing against the NFL’s top draft pick. Gone is Josh Gordon, and although Le’Veon Bell remains out of the lineup, James Conner has become a very consistent contributor to the Pittsburgh offense.
On top of personnel, both teams are headed in different directions coming into Week 8. Pittsburgh is coming off their bye week, but prior to their week off they had won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Cleveland has been heading in the wrong direction, and have played in a whopping four overtime games through seven games, and the most recent was a Week 7 loss in overtime to the Buccaneers.
So, who will come out victorious in this game? While it is anything but certain what kind of Steelers team comes out of a bye week, it is difficult for me to see a way the Browns win this football game. I fully believe the Steelers are fired up for several reasons. First, they want to prove the tie in Week 1 was nothing more than a fluke, second after the bye week the team finds itself in first place in the division, and lastly, the Steelers realize how important these next two games are for their place within the AFC North division race.
For all those reasons, and much more, I see the Steelers winning this one rather easily after a slow start by both teams. Look for Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown to all do their part as they put up over 30 points again in a very important win.
Steelers - 34
Browns - 17