Following a rousing win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns will head on the road this week to face another division rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers. These teams started the year in very different ways, with the Browns earning a blowout victory, while Pittsburgh was on the wrong side of a 30-7 beatdown.
Cleveland's chances of beginning the campaign 2-0 are looking even better after Monday's injury news.
Longtime Browns nemesis Cam Heyward suffered a groin injury against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1 that will require surgery, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This will cause him to miss up to eight weeks of action, including Monday night's contest versus Cleveland.
No one should actively root for opposing players to get hurt, but surely the Browns' coaching staff and offensive line are relived they won't have to face Heyward in Week 2. Few defensive players have performed at such a high level for so long, which makes him an unfortunate talent to have in your own division.
Cleveland's been on the wrong side of Heyward's dominance plenty of times throughout the years. Across 20 career games against the Browns, the six-time Pro Bowler has racked up 11.5 sacks -- including a personal best of 2 in these squads' most recent meeting on Jan. 8 of this year.
Given the length of time that Heyward may miss, it's possible Cleveland doesn't see him at all during the 2023 campaign. These teams will rematch in Week 11 on Nov. 19, which would be about nine weeks, and there's no telling how his recovery will go after surgery.
Focusing on the days ahead, this gives the Browns another advantage heading into a primetime division showdown. Cleveland will enter Week 2 looking to make some history as 1.5-point favorites.
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
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