Steelers Browns Odds
The Cleveland Browns (4-6) and Pittsburgh Steelers (4-6) each try and keep their playoff hopes alive when they square off in Week 12 at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Steelers have won five of the past six meetings in this series, though these teams split their two meetings last year with the home squad winning each time.
This will be their first head-to-head showdown in 2013. Kickoff between these AFC North rivals is set for 1:00 EST Sunday afternoon. Taking a look at the odds in Las Vegas, I find Cleveland listed as a 2.5-point favorite over Pittsburgh with a total set of 40 points.
Why Cleveland Covers
The Browns are coming off a game where they clearly outplayed the Bengals but lost by a final of 20-41. They outgained the Bengals 330-224 for the game, but gave up two non-offensive touchdowns in the loss after taking a 13-0 lead early. They also committed four turnovers to self-destruct, which was out of character. I still believe this team is one of the better squads in the AFC, and a loss to the Bengals doesn’t chance that much.
When you play defense the way the Browns do, you have a chance to beat anyone. Cleveland is allowing just 306.5 yards per game to rank 5th in the league in total defense. It is giving up just 4.7 yards per play this season, which is simply incredible. To compare, Pittsburgh allows 5.5 yards per play, including 6.4 per play in road games. Which brings me to another point that the Steelers do not play well away from home.
Pittsburgh is 1-4 straight up and 1-4 against the spread in road games in 2013. It is getting outscored 21.0 to 27.2 away from home, or by an average of 6.2 points per game. Cleveland has played its best football at home where it is 3-2 straight up and 3-2 against the spread this season. That includes wins over the Bengals, Bills and Ravens. The Steelers have road losses to the likes of the Vikings and Raiders.
Jason Campbell has played very well since taking over as the starting quarterback for the past three games. He has completed better than 60 percent of his passes for 803 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions in his last three starts. He has thrown for at least 248 yards in each start and you could argue that he’s been even better than Brian Hoyer was.
Plays against road teams where the line is +3 to -3 (PITTSBURGH) – off an upset win by 10 points or more as an underdog, after the first month of the season are 48-21 (69.6%) ATS since 1983. Pittsburgh is 9-22 against the spread in its last 31 road games when playing against a bad team with a winning percentage between 25% and 40%. The Steelers are 1-5 against the spread in their last six road games. The Browns are 13-6-1 against the number in their last 20 games following a S.U. loss.
Why Pittsburgh Covers
The Steelers have won four of their past six games to get right back into the thick of the playoff race. There’s no question that this is still one of the more talented teams in the league, and it’s starting to show in recent weeks. Ben Roethlisberger looks like his old self, and the defense remains one of the better units in the NFL. This is a stop unit that has allowed less than 300 yards in six of its 10 games in 2013, and the struggling Browns offense will have a hard time moving the ball on it.
Cleveland is putting up just 19.2 points and 318.1 yards per game to rank 25th in the league in total offense. Pittsburgh is averaging 21.6 points and 343.3 yards per game to rank a respectable 15th in total offense. Roethlisberger has completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,901 yards with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions this season. He has thrown for 971 yards and nine touchdowns in his last three games alone.
Pittsburgh has simply owned Cleveland throughout the years. It is 31-7 against the Browns in all meetings dating back to 1992. That includes a 17-2 run in this series over the past 19 matchups. With that kind of dominance, it’s hard to envision the Steelers being an underdog in this contest Sunday afternoon.
Pittsburgh has simply owned Cleveland throughout the years. It is 31-7 against the Browns in all meetings dating back to 1992. That includes a 17-2 run in this series over the past 19 matchups.
While the Steelers are hot right now, the Browns have really been stuck in a downward spiral and will have a hard time recovering from last week’s 20-41 loss at Cincinnati. They have dropped four of their past five games overall with three of those defeats coming by 14 points or more. So, as you can see, they have rarely been competitive over the past month-plus.
Plays against home favorites (CLEVELAND) – off a road loss, a marginal losing team (40% to 49%) playing a bad team (25-40%) are 38-11 (77.6%) ATS since 1983. The Browns are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game. Pittsburgh is 33-18 ATS in its last 51 games following a game with a turnover margin of +3 or better.
My Early Lean: Steelers +2.5