Steelers Browns Odds

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but they have a realistic chance to secure the sixth seed in the playoff race if they can beat the Browns this week.  A win over Cleveland, along with losses from Miami, Baltimore and San Diego.  Baltimore is on the road against a Bengals team that has yet to be defeated at home, San Diego is playing host to a Chiefs team that is 6-1 on the road, and the Dolphins have really struggled down the stretch.  That gives Pittsburgh plenty to play for this week, so I don’t expect motivation to be an issue.

The Browns are not in the playoffs, but they would love to end the season with a win that has major playoff implications.  Cleveland has been criticized all season for questionable moves by the administration, and they have been plagued by key injuries.  Its been a poor second half to the season for Cleveland, but they have a chance to go out on a positive note, as well as get a little revenge from a bad loss to Pittsburgh earlier this season.

Kick-off takes place this Sunday at 1:00 PM ET with regional television coverage being provided by CBS.  The oddsmakers expect Pittsburgh to make easy work of Cleveland, listing the Steelers as a seven-point favorite in this game.  The total has been set at 44.5-points.

Why Cleveland Covers

The Browns defense has not been given a lot of credit this year, but I think they catch a big break this week against the Steelers.  Cleveland has been solid against the run, holding opposing running backs to an average of just 3.8 yards per carry.  They also have an outstanding secondary unit that is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete a mere 59.9 percent of their pass attempts for 224 yards.  The Steelers offensive line is in shambles, and with Roethlisberger facing such a tough secondary unit I think Cleveland will have a significant matchup advantage in this game.

The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings between these teams.

I don’t put a lot of stock in Cleveland’s first loss against the Steelers this year.  That was a game that Cleveland was forced to use two difference quarterbacks, and they seem to be committed to Jason Campbell coming into this game.  While Campbell has not been spectacular, I think the learning curve is leveling out, and he should have a strong performance against this weak Steelers defense.  Pittsburgh is allowing 24.2 points per game this season, and they have been horrible when it comes to forcing turnovers.

Why Pittsburgh Covers

The Steelers are scoring 24.1 points per game at home this year.  They have won five of their last seven games, and the two losses during that stretch came by margins smaller than a single touchdown.  Pittsburgh is the hot team, having covered the spread in six of their last seven games.  I like their chances to have a strong performance this week against a Browns defense that has allowed 26.7 points per game on the road.  Cleveland is 1-6 in road games this year, and they have done very little in recent weeks to inspire any confidence in their abilities coming into this game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hot, having covered the spread in six of their last seven games.

Pittsburgh’s defense is definitely nowhere near as good as they have been in past seasons, but they should make easy work of Jason Campbell in this game.  Campbell is completing just 56.9 percent of his pass attempts, and he has thrown just 10 touchdowns along with his seven interceptions.  With an abundance of first round draft picks, I think the Browns are content with throwing in the towel and making some moves towards next season.  Pittsburgh is still fighting for a chance to make the playoffs, and a win over Cleveland would put a lot of pressure on at least San Diego who will play a late afternoon game this week.

My Pick

The Browns are an easy call in this game.  Pittsburgh has been a huge disappointment this year, and their struggles on the offensive line should show this week.  A touchdown is simply too many points to give a division rival.  I think the Steelers will win this game, but I have this one being decided by four points in a 21-17 defensive battle.

About the Author: Ryan James has been in the sports handicapping industry for over 10 years. He offers a comprehensive and detailed analysis behind every pick he makes. Ryan consistently outperforms the competition with his baseball, basketball and football picks.
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