Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Betting Preview – NFL, Week 17, 2020

By Dean McHugh in NFL
| December 29, 2020 3:40 pm PDT

The Browns currently occupy the last playoff spot in the AFC, and if they win this and the Ravens lose, we would be looking at a preview of the first-round playoffs against the Steelers here. However, their sole priority is to qualify for the playoffs, and there are eight different permutations available for them to do so, so the odds are stacked in their favor.

Cleveland comes into the game with mixed form, having won three of their last five games. However, many will feel that they should have already secured their playoff berth last week against the Jets, but they failed miserably, losing 23-16.

The Steelers are in worse form, having only won two of their last five games, which is a worry for Pittsburgh fans.

The home team on the day has won this fixture on the last four occasions that it has been played, which is a good omen for the Browns.

Steelers vs. Browns Odds

Steelers +7-110
Browns -7-110
Steelers To Win+265
Browns To Win-350
Over 42.5 Points-110
Under 42.5 Points-110

I am extremely surprised by the margin of the spread here. Yes, technically, the Browns are the only team who have anything to play for as the Steelers have already secured a home first-round match in the playoffs, but they will want to bring some sort of decent form heading into the playoffs.

Steelers News

The Steelers ended a run of three straight defeats with a great come from behind win against the Colts last time out. They trailed 24-14 going into the final quarter of the game but managed to pull off a 28-24 win.

On the road, they have won five of their seven matches, although those two defeats have come in the last two weeks against the Bills and the Bengals. Will they lose to another team beginning with ‘B’ this week?

They haven’t done well against the spread recently, losing four of the last five. They also have a poor record against the spread when facing the Browns in Cleveland, having lost four of the last six.

Their games have been low-scoring affairs, with four of the last six on the road going under the betting total. This is even more so on the road, with 16 of the last 21 going under the betting total also. The trend continues looking at the head to head games between the two as 11 of the last 16 has gone under, and six of the last seven in Cleveland have gone the same way.

The Steelers have relied heavily on their defense, which is averaging just 19 points against them per game, which is the second-best in the league. This has largely been down to reducing opponents to just a 56% passing success rate, which is by far the best in the NFL.

Linebacker T.J. Watts has been a key figure in defense as he leads the league in sacks made this year, and he certainly played his part in last week’s win over the Colts, making two sacks and also forcing a fumble.

However, they have the lowest amount of sacks made this year, presumably because they usually have the lion’s share of possession in games. They have, however, made the most interceptions in the league.

Whilst their defensive approach has worked most weeks as they have only conceded an average of just over 300 yards and under 200 passing yards per game, it has certainly affected their offense.

They have the worst rushing attack in the league averaging just over 80 yards per game, however, it must be said their attack is clinical. For a team that only averages a combined total of 330 yards per game, their points return is higher than you would expect at 26 points per game.

Browns News

After four wins in a row catapulted the Browns into the playoff picture, they have done their best to drop out of that picture, having lost two of their last three, which, as mentioned, includes an embarrassing defeat to the Jets last time out.

They have done well at home, winning five of their seven games at the FirstEnergy Stadium. However, they lost their last game in an 89 point thriller to playoff rivals Baltimore.

Although Cleveland has done well against the spread when playing against the Steelers, they haven’t done well in recent weeks, having lost seven of their last ten.

The Browns have looked nervous in their last couple of games, which is possibly the reason both games went under the betting total.

If you solely looked at the Browns stats this year, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a team that has already been eliminated. They are averaging a decent 25 points scored per game but are conceding an average of 26 points.

Unlike the Steelers, they like to run the ball and average an impressive 145 yards per game. However, like the Steelers, they don’t have many sacks to their name this season, with the fifth-lowest total. They have also forced the second-highest amount of fumbles this year behind the Ravens.

Steelers vs. Browns Pick

Pick
  • Steelers +7
    -110

Although the Browns are the only side playing for anything, they have looked terribly nervous in the last couple of weeks. Taking that into account and the fact that the Steelers will be looking to resurrect their perfect season and build on the fourth-quarter comeback last week against the Colts, I will take them with the handicap to win this one.

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