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Joe Manniello's Thursday night NFL pick

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Pittsburgh Steelers head Coach Mike Tomlin looks on during warm ups before a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium on Aug. 13, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Steelers head Coach Mike Tomlin looks on during warm ups before a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium on Aug. 13, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (Justin Berl/Getty Images/TNS)


TV: Amazon Prime, 8:15 p.m.

The Line: Cleveland by 4.5; O/U: 38.5

The last time these AFC North rivals met on a Thursday night, it was one of the ugliest scenes in NFL history. Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph got into it, with Garrett hitting the Steelers quarterback in the head with his own helmet. Fast-forward 34 months later and we could be in store for another ugly night of football. Only this time, it will be the actual play.

Both teams won in Week 1 on late field goals, then suffered back-to-reality losses in Week 2. The Browns had a 99.9% chance to beat the Jets when they took a 30-17 lead, but in typical Browns fashion, found a way to lose a 31-30 heartbreaker. So how will they respond to such a devastating loss? I always say that one of the few benefits of playing on TNF is that a team must wait only four days instead of the usual week to change the narrative. But on the flip side, that kind of loss could haunt a team.

The Steelers’ offense would like to change the narrative, too. Mitch Trubisky hasn’t eclipsed 200 yards passing in either of the first two games, and the air attack leaves a lot to be desired. Pittsburgh’s Week 1 upset at Cincinnati was more because of its stellar defense and the Bengals’ miscues.

This is a toss-up game between rivals looking to take the early lead in the division. Expect a grind-it-out kind of game where an explosive play (we’re looking at you, Cleveland RB Nick Chubb and Pittsburgh WR Diontae Johnson) could be the determining factor.

I see this being a 17-14, 20-17 type of game where a late field goal wins it for either team. So, scoop up the points and consider this valuable stat: According to Vegas Stats & Information Network, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is an incredible 46-24 against the spread as an underdog.

The pick: Pittsburgh


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