Some sports betting players counted Pittsburgh out early in the season, and even throughout the Steelers haven’t looked like world-beaters, but here they are, aiming for their 12th win when they travel to Cleveland and they still have a slight chance to win the AFC North. The Steelers won’t take this game lightly and they should be able to have their way with the anemic Browns.
What: NFL Betting
When: Sunday, January 1st, 4:15 PM ET
Where: Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers
Why Bet On Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4 SU, 7-8 ATS)
The Steelers didn’t need injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a 27-0 shutout of St. Louis at home, clinching their spot in the playoffs. Charlie Batch was 15-of-22 for 208 yards and a pick, while Rashard Mendenhall ran for 116 yards and a score on 18 carries for the Steelers, but it was the defense that was the story as they held the Rams to 232 yards, including a mere 68 yards through the air. Now, you have to factor in that St. Louis has a terrible offense anyway and Sam Bradford was injured, but any time a defense picks up a shutout, it’s a good thing for their confidence. Lawrence Timmons racked up 11 tackles (including eight solo) and a sack for the Steelers, who weren’t close to perfect offensively, but they didn’t need to be against a poor Rams team.
Roethlisberger (ankle) has a chance to play this week and the Steelers would love to get him a little work so he can shake the rust off heading into the playoffs as the big pivot is a huge part of their NFL betting odds. Pittsburgh also has a couple of ailments to worry about up front as linemen Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) and Doug Legursky (shoulder) are banged up, although Pouncey is expected to recover, and linebacker Lamarr Woodley (hamstring) isn’t 100% yet. Pittsburgh can still win the AFC North if they win and Baltimore loses to Cincinnati, who are still trying to get into the playoffs, so don’t expect the Steelers to take their foot off the gas. The fact that they’re playing a division rival helps in regards to motivation.
Why Bet On Cleveland Browns (4-11 SU, 7-6-2 ATS)
Cleveland lost their fifth in a row in a 20-14 loss in Baltimore, which was their third straight road game, but to their credit the Browns haven’t lost by more than 10 points during this skid. Seneca Wallace was 19-of-33 for 147 yards, a touchdown and a pick, while Peyton Hillis had his first 100-yard rushing day of the season, going for 112 yards for the Browns, who fell behind 17-0 by halftime and dug themselves too deep of a hole to get out of. Josh Cribbs also ran a punt back 84 yards for a touchdown, and his ability on special teams may be Cleveland’s best chance to score points. The defense tried to keep the Browns in the game, but they allowed 162 yards on the ground and that has been a problem for the Cleveland defense all season; that is always going to be a recipe for disaster in the AFC North. Combine that with Cleveland’s inability to score and the Browns have a lot of work to do heading into next season.
Quarterback Colt McCoy (concussion) will probably end the season on the sidelines and he hasn’t played since getting hurt against the Steelers three games ago, so the Browns won’t want to subject their young pivot to any more pressure. Linebacker Kaluka Maiava (hand) will play through his broken hand, and hopefully he won’t aggravate the injury. There isn’t much to look forward to for the Browns in this game, but they should be able to find some motivation as they’re at home, finishing up the season against a division rival. But will it be enough against the Steelers, who have dominated Cleveland in recent years?
How It Will Play Out
The NFL betting line for this game is still off the board as sportsbooks are waiting to hear about Roethlisberger, but even without Big Ben, the Steelers should be the favorites on the road in Cleveland, where they are 4-1 SU and 2-2-1 ATS in their last five trips with three games going over the posted total. A 14-3 win in Pittsburgh in Week 14 was the Steelers’ ninth SU win in 10 games against the Browns.
The Steelers still have something to play for, and they definitely would like to keep their record against the Browns intact, so expect them to come out with their best on Sunday. The key will be getting some work for Roethlisberger, although he won’t play that much, but the Steelers will also run the ball until the Browns prove they can stop it. Mendenhall will probably share time with Isaac Redman, and these two will grind the Browns into the ground. Along with their stout defense, take Pittsburgh in your online betting picks.
Steelers Browns Betting Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers