Cleveland Browns (2-7 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4 SU, 5-3-1 ATS)
NFL Week 10
Date/Time: Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLE +4.5/PIT -4.5
Over/Under Total: 41
On Sunday in AFC North action, the Cleveland Browns come out to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. Its been a rough season for the Browns, especially as of late. Last Thursday, they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, 31-10, in another uncompetitive loss. The Steelers, meanwhile, are coming off a dogged 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, pushing their record to 5-4. But Pittsburgh again suffered a bad injury, with starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger going down with a foot injury. They will now try to again keep things together until Big Ben returns.
The offense is infinitely better with Roethlisberger in there, as he can bring out the potential out of a vast arsenal of weapons. With Big Ben in there, WR Antonio Brown was able to notch 284 yards receiving on Sunday. The offense was moving. But injuries continue to threaten to derail the 2015 Pittsburgh effort. LeVeon Bell, a major contributor to the offense, went down for the year the week before. But as we saw on Sunday and earlier this season as Bell was serving a suspension, DeAngelo Williams has been more than up to the task as the featured back in this offense, with 170 yards on Sunday, including 2 catches for 55 yards. Jones does step into a nice situation again with an offense that is stocked.
So how viable are the Steelers with Landry Jones? The results thus far have been mixed. While he seems able to make more of this offense than Michael Vick was able to, whether he can hold things together over the course of the next few or several weeks remains to be seen. When filling in for a hurt Vick in his first action of the season, he was tremendous, but in his lone start of the season, he was very dicey, as the Steelers lost at home to the one-win Chiefs.
Offering the Steelers some hope is how they have kept things together with Big Ben on the mend so often this season. They are over .500 and have seen other parts of the team elevate their game to make up for the loss of the leader of their offense. Were not saying Jones is going to be great, but with him in there, they have a serviceable player who can win, particularly in home games against the likes of the Cleveland Browns. The schedule will toughen up from here, but this presents a good opportunity to win for Jones and lend some confidence to the still-unproven backup.
What are we to make of Cleveland this season? Several weeks ago, they werent winning perhaps, but their aerial game was taking flight and they were managing to be very competitive, even against good teams. The last three weeks, however, have seen the Browns take a step back, with three straight losses of the non-competitive variety. The 31-10 loss to the Bengals last Thursday was depressing to watch. One could envision a path to success for the Browns, but they were unable to get much of anything going. Most alarming is the lack of fight seen on some areas of the team, as the hopelessness of their situation begins to crystallize. Theyre playing out the season at this point, with a head coach at the helm who is as good as gone at the end of the season. Its unclear what type of effort you can depend on for the rest of the season with this Browns squad.
At quarterback, the situation is a mess, with Josh McCown showing some good form this season, but snake-bitten by injuries. Its allowed Johnny Manziel to showcase some of his wares, which led to a win in one start, with an erratic performance last Thursday against Cincywith one good half of play and one half of substandard play. It looks like McCown is ready to play this week. But while hes been able to get this passing-game to take off, it hasnt resulted in wins, with McCown only registering one win as a starter this season. McCown can maybe get more out of this offense, while Manziel is probably more of a winner, the type of player who has a knack for cultivating a victory, which McCown cant seem to do.
The Browns defense has not been aiding to the overall team cause in any kind of positive manner. In five games, theyve allowed 30 or more points. And against the run, theyre approaching comical levels. Opposing backs are having a field day against this D. And when a key play that could turn close losses into potential wins is needed, this defense has a way of disappearing. Granted, it doesnt help when an erratic offense that cant run the ball is leaving them to hang out to dry. But there have not been many positive things from this defense in weeks.
At the same time, you can only write off a team so much when theyre able to produce offensively like Cleveland can. Not that they do, but they can. The passing game, with burgeoning tight end Gary Barnidge, Travis Benjamin, and some other viable weapons on offense like rookie Duke Johnson, aids an offense that can at least theoretically put up points. The issue is that they so seldom actually do. A front-line that alternates between mediocre and frighteningly-bad is a major culprit to the offensive deficiencies. They have allowed 30 sacks this season and are not coming close to consistently opening holes for the run game, which has been dormant.
Cleveland faces a difficult road test again this week on the heels of a one-sided butt-whipping at the hands of Cincy. Pittsburgh is obviously compromised by injuries, namely with the losses of Bell and Roethlisberger, but theyve shown they are able to be a somewhat-close facsimile to their former selves, as players have really stepped up to fill key roles. I look for the Steelers to actually have a pretty good game on Sunday.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers -4.5
Bet on games LIVE-IN-PROGRESS at a bookie where credit cards work for deposits and where you will get a FAT 50% bonus up to $1000 FREE! –> MyBookie!