The Browns and Steelers meet for the second straight week but this time it’ll be Ben Roethlisberger at the helm rather than Mason Rudolph. The Browns picked up the 24-22 win on Sunday in Cleveland to secure their first playoff berth since the ‘02-’03 season. They’ll be without head coach Kevin Stefanski on Sunday night due to Covid protocols. Hector and I will weigh in on that and dive into some analysis for our top bets on Sunday for the rubber match of this AFC North showdown.
Spread: CLE +6 (-115) | PIT -6 (-105)
Money Line: CLE (+220) | PIT (-260)
Total: 47 (O -113, U -107)
Kickoff: 8:15 ET | Heinz Field | Pittsburgh, PA
Trent’s Best Bet on the Side
Well let me be the first to say that I think it’s B.S. that the NFL won’t make any exceptions to the rules so that Stefanski can be involved in the game on Sunday night. This is a billion dollar company – I’m sure they could figure out how to safely escort this guy into his own suite so he can call plays from above. And that’s coming from a Steelers fan. This just seems “so Cleveland.” Only they would finally break their nearly 20-year playoff drought just to lose their most important asset.
Anyways, from a betting standpoint, I love the Steelers -6 (-105) in this game. Despite all of the Steelers defensive injuries, they continue to perform and be the strength of this team. They are the third best defensive unit in terms of yardage allowed and points given up. I think it’s a bad matchup for the Browns offensively, especially without their play caller. It’s going to be a tall task OC Alex Van Pelt to step in and take over the play calling. Offensively for the Black and Gold, the Steelers should find success against the 21st ranked defense in terms of points given up. I expect Ben Roethlisberger to have a day and put the Browns in their place as the little brother of the AFC North. They should also be able to establish the run game on Sunday as they’ve posted an average of 107 rushing yards in two games against the Browns. All in all, I see the Steelers winning this game by two possessions and advancing to the Divisional Round. Steelers 31, Browns 17.
Hector’s Best Bet
Like Trent said, it is garbage that Coach Stefanski will be completely out of the loop for his team in their biggest game in nearly 20 years. Get the guy somehow involved with his team in a safe way and the Browns may have a chance. Missing your head coach is not an ideal situation, especially in a playoff game, but let’s see how the game goes.
For my best prop bet in this game, I am taking the Steelers -0.5 (-125) in the 1st quarter. In their first meeting this season, the Steelers were up 10-0. In their second matchup, the Browns were up 7-0 after the first quarter and that was against a Mason Rudolph led Steelers squad. Also, the Browns have scored a total of 63 points in the first quarter alone, which averages out to just under 4 points/first quarter. Not great! Baker and the offense in general will struggle without their head coach and it might take a few drives for them to find a rhythm and get some points on the board. As for Pittsburgh, I love a well-rested Big Ben and this has all the makings of the Steelers being able to jump out to a quick easy lead in the first quarter. As for the rest of the game, I think the Steelers will control the ball and have their way with the Browns, capping off a great weekend of playoff football.