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Browns vs. Steelers Monday NFL Week 2: The Post-49ers Effect could doom Pittsburgh

Arguably the most physical team in the NFL these days is the San Francisco 49ers, and it often showed in their opponents’ performance in the immediate next game last season. Teams that faced the Niners went 1-15 straight up and 3-12-1 against the spread in 2022 in their next game. The Pittsburgh Steelers were dominated in a Week 1 home loss by San Francisco, 30-7, this year and now are 2-point underdogs for tonight’s AFC North matchup against visiting Cleveland.

The only team that won straight up last year the week after playing the Niners was Kansas City, and it had a bye in between. Overall, teams the week after facing the Niners were outscored by about 10 points in the next game. Back when the #Steelers and Baltimore Ravens were at the apex of their incredibly physical rivalry, it was often smart to fade both the teams the week after they played one another because they were beaten up. Same type of thing here.

The Steelers were beaten up a bit by the 49ers.

Pittsburgh has two pretty incredible streaks on the line: It was won 19 straight regular-season games against Cleveland and has won 20 straight home games overall on Monday Night Football, the longest streak ever on MNF. The Steelers, who have never finished with a losing record under Mike Tomlin, haven’t started 0-2 since 2019. They are without two key injured starters in No. 1 receiver Diontae Johnson and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, both hurt against the Niners.

Week 1 was the Steelers' greatest margin of defeat at home during the Tomlin era. But in the past four games in which the Steelers have lost by 20 points or more, they won the next game.

Cleveland hasn’t started 2-0 since 1993, the longest such drought in NFL history. Deshaun Watson again put up mediocre numbers in the opening win over Cincinnati -- the #Browns had fewer than 200 net passing yards in six of their seven career games with Watson as the starting quarterback -- and now will be likely without No. 1 wideout Amari Cooper and Pro Bowl right tackle Jack Conklin due to injury, with Conklin set to miss the season.

Cooper isn’t officially out yet but is likely on the wrong side of questionable after aggravating a groin injury on Saturday. He is looking to become the first player in #DawgPound history with 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive seasons. Watson has personally not won consecutive games since Weeks 11-12 in 2020 while with Houston.

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