In what feels like a quintessential Thursday night NFL snoozer, the Steelers and Browns face off for the first time in 2022, led by replacement-level quarterbacks and a supporting cast that does little to inspire confidence in either offense.
Unsurprisingly, oddsmakers have priced this total as the lowest of the week, with Cleveland dealing as a short home favorite coming off a back-breaking loss to the Jets at home. Pittsburgh hasn’t fared much better, though the winner of this one will somehow emerge with a winning record.
Here’s how we’re betting Thursday night’s contest, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.
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Steelers vs. Browns Odds (via FanDuel)
Spread: PIT +3.5 (-104) vs. CLE -3.5 (-114)
Moneyline: PIT (+168) vs. CLE (-200)
Total: Over 38.5 (-110) | Under 38.5 (-110)
Steelers vs. Browns prediction and analysis
Anytime a game is dealing with this low of a total, I’m immediately intrigued by the under, which has been a savvy play in recent years on extreme totals in either direction. And these two offenses have definitely earned the lack of confidence from oddsmakers.
That’s particularly true for the Steelers, who are tied for the 11st-fewest points per game (18.5) and have scored just two offensive touchdowns through two weeks. They also rank 30th in total yards per game (255) and dead last in yards per drive (22.4) while ranking 31st in punts per drive (.545) and three-and-outs per drive (.364).
No matter how you slice it, this is simply one of the worst offenses in football, and quarterback Mitch Trubisky (362 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) doesn’t look like the answer in his only two starts since his final season with the Bears in 2020. It doesn’t help that he’s playing behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines, which has also hindered the team’s substandard run game.
The Browns haven’t been quite as inept through two games, but their offense was frozen late in last week’s stunning loss to the Jets, who erased a 13-point deficit in the final minutes to steal a win on the road. Jacoby Brissett is yet to complete a pass longer than 30 yards this season, and his late interception to seal that Week 2 loss sullied what was otherwise an efficient day.
His job won’t get any easier against this opportunistic Steelers front, which is tied for the league lead in interceptions (5) and has allowed the sixth-fewest points per drive (1.54) despite their offense consistently gifting opponents with generous field position. Can this Cleveland offense take advantage? Nick Chubb is a superstar, but he’s historically struggled against Pittsburgh’s defense and can only do so much to carry this otherwise uninspiring offense.
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It doesn’t help that neither offense is at full strength, either. Brissett (ankle) will be playing through an injury he suffered late in that collapse to the Jets, while Jack Conklin (knee) isn’t at 100% after missing the first two games of the season. On the other side, Harris hasn’t looked right as he fights through a nagging foot/ankle injury that’s plagued him since early in training camp.
This total is as low as oddsmakers can reasonably go without aggressive buyback on the other side. Traditionally, that signals major value for the under. Since 2020, games with a total below 39 are 7-1 to the under, which would have been a perfect 8-0 if not for a furious 30-point quarter last week between the Browns and Jets. I wouldn’t expect a repeat of that in this one, which seems destined to be a “first to 20” type of affair.
Steelers vs. Browns ‘TNF’ pick
Under 38.5 (-110 FanDuel)
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