Pittsburgh Steelers ( 9-6 SU, 8-6-1 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-10 SU, 6-9 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday. January 3, 1:00pm
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium Cleveland, OH
by Bob, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PIT -10 / CLE +10
Over/Under Total: 47.5
It seemed like yesterday that the NFL season was just getting started and now all of a sudden, here we are in the final week of the regular season. Most of the playoff spots have been filled, but there are a few teams in need of some wins and some other help. One of those teams that are on the outside looking in, yet are still alive is the Pittsburgh Steelers from the AFC North. This Sunday, the Steelers will travel into Cleveland to take on the 3-10 Browns. Seems like it should be an easy win for the Steelers, but just this past week, many thought they would have a cake walk against a very bad Baltimore team. That final score saw the Ravens upset the Steelers by a 20-17 score. Pittsburgh is in a MUST win situation this weekend and a loss to the Browns would end their 2015 campaign.
The line opens this week with the Pittsburgh Steelers favored by 10 points over the Cleveland Browns while the over under is set at 47.5 points combined. 56% of the early action on the Steelers to get the big road cover, while 44% believe that Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns will keep the game close. This will be the second meeting this season between these two teams. The last time they met was in Heinz Field and the Steelers walked away with an easy 30-9 victory. Head to head, Pittsburgh has won five of the last six meetings with the Browns and they have covered the spread in four of the last six. It appears that maybe Pittsburgh is the play here, but lets take a closer look at these two teams before jumping to any conclusions.
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Like earlier stated, the Steelers are in a must win situation to even have a hope of making the playoffs in 2015. This team has been up and down all season, but some of that can be attested to the fact that Big Ben missed some games due to injury and the Steelers have had to turn to Mike Vick and Landry Jones off and on this season. Ben Roethlisberger is back from injury but reports this morning is that he is having flu like symptoms and is not even at the practice facility. Of course this does not mean he is not going to play on Sunday. He has plenty of time to rest and recover, but this could play a part in his overall performance on Sunday. Statistically speaking, the Steelers should be one of the top teams in all of the NFL. They rank 5th in passing offense, 13th in rushing offense, and at 26.3 points per game scored, they rank in the NFLs top five. On the defensive side, they are pretty stout as well. Allowing 20.5 points per game, the Steelers have the 11th best scoring defense. So why are they having trouble making the playoffs? This may sound too simple, but they have played one hell of a schedule. Pittsburgh has faced off against the Patriots, the Chiefs, the Bengals twice, and they also lost to a very hot Seattle Seahawks team too. This is a good team and I promise you this, if they make the post season, no one will want to face themno one.
Cleveland is having a horrible season, which is pretty typical now days. At 3-10 the only thing they are playing for is pride and they would love to play spoiler to the Pittsburgh Steelers playoff hopes. The Browns have lost nine of their last ten games and they seem to be getting less competitive each week. For so long, the Browns fans screamed to let Johnny Manziel be the starter. Well, he has been starting for a few weeks now, and not much has changed. Just this past Sunday, Johnny Football passed for just 136 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He also went 13 of 32 passing which is one of the leagues worst performances of 2015. This Browns team needs help, lots of it. They need a true franchise quarterback, a better defense, and some playmakers on both sides of the ball. Scoring has been an issue for Cleveland all year. Not just the offense, but the scoring defense as well. The Browns rank 29th in the NFL in both scoring offense and defense. The offense is only getting 17 points per contest, while the defense is allowing opponents to score nearly 27 points per game. Not good. If Cleveland has any chance to not only keep this game within 10, but to win, they need to play the best game of their season. Slow down the Steelers offense and keep this game low scoring. Just last week, even with the horrible play of Manziel and the rest of the Browns offense, they nearly pulled off the win over the Kansas City Chiefs simply because their defense played pretty well. Repeat that and I think a cover will be easy, a win however, will still take a miracle.
Pittsburgh has pretty much owned this series over the last three seasons with the exception of a blowout loss to the Browns last season. Other than that, the Steelers have done well against Cleveland. I do have a feeling though that this game will not be as easy as many believe. Do I think the Steelers win? Absolutely. But I think the Browns play well enough to keep it within a touchdown or so. Pittsburgh wins 23-15, but the Browns cover.
Bobs Pick to Cover the Point Spread: PICK THE CLEVELAND BROWNS +10
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