The Pittsburgh Steelers have one more chance at making the AFC playoffs as a wildcard team and it comes this Sunday, January 3 in the final game of the season at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh blew a huge chance to wrap things up last weekend when they were downed 20-17 by the Ravens in Baltimore. They enter week 17 action in second place in the AFC North at 9-6. However, they’re going to need some outside help since the 10-5 New York Jets can finish at 11-5 if they beat the Buffalo Bills on the road. Meanwhile, the Browns are out of the postseason picture at 3-12. They sit in the basement of the AFC North and were beaten 17-13 in Kansas City by the Chiefs last week.
- Bovada currently lists the Steelers at -10 at -110 with the Browns +10 at -110. Over Under set at 47 1/2.
Steelers vs Browns Betting Trends:
- Season record: 9-6 straight up, 7-5-3 against the spread
- Pittsburgh is 3-5-1 ATS in its last 9 games
- Pittsburgh is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Pittsburgh’s last 5 games
- Season record: 3-12 SU,5-9-1 ATS
- Cleveland is 2-7-1 ATS in its last 10 games
- Cleveland is 1-9 SU in its last 10 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Cleveland’s last 7 games
The Steelers’ loss in Baltimore on Sunday means they can no longer control their own fate. They could hammer the Browns on Sunday, but still miss the playoffs if the Jets get past the Bills. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t at his best against the Ravens as he passed for 227 yards and was picked off twice. Wide receiver Antonio Brown also struggled with just 61 yards to his name. However, running back DeAngelo Williams was a bright spot as he rushed for a pair of touchdowns and 100 yards on his 17 carries.
Williams also chipped in with half a dozen receptions for 53 yards. However, he struggled against the Browns earlier this season by when he carried the ball 17 times for only 54 yards. Roethlisberger needs to bounce back in Cleveland and he should be confident of doing so since he threw for 379 yards along with three touchdowns against the Browns in a 30-9 home win in week 10. He also had some help from Brown and Martavis Bryant. Brown had a touchdown and 139 yards in that game while Bryant had a touchdown and 178 yards.
Pittsburgh will find that Cleveland’s passing defense has improved since they last met though as they’ve allowed just eight passing touchdowns in their past five games and conceded an average of 204 yards in the air against over that period. The Steelers’ defense played well against the Browns in week 10 as they sacked quarterback Johnny Manziel on five occasions and will need to play the same way this Sunday with their season hanging in the balance. Pittsburgh has gone 4-2 against the Browns in their last six meetings and 5-1 straight up.
The Browns have had a brutal season and would love nothing more than to end it on a high note by playing the role of spoiler. However, a win could mean they may not get the first-overall pick in next year’s draft. The Browns will be going for the win but Manziel will need a better performance than he had against the Chiefs. He had only 136 passing yards in the game and was intercepted once. However, he was fine on the ground as he carried the ball 11 times for 108 yards. Running back Isaiah Crowell chipped in with 16 carries for 88 yards.
The Browns are up against a good Steelers rushing defense which ranks sixth in the league at 91.5 yards against per outing. The Steelers have given up only six touchdowns on the ground this year, which ranks second-best. This means the Browns will likely try an aerial assault with Travis Benjamin being the main target. Manziel threw for 372 yards against Pittsburgh in week 10 and went 73.3 per cent in passing. He threw a touchdown pass and was also picked off once. Benjamin gained 113 yards on seven receptions and Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins teamed up for 146 yards.
Linebacker Armonty Bryant and defensive end Desmond Bryant will be keys for the pass rush. They’ve combined for 11.5 sacks this season while linebacker Karlos Dansby has three interceptions. The Browns have gone 5-2 against the spread in their past seven home encounters with the Steelers.
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Written By Ian Palmer