Browns-Steelers Betting Preview: How to Play Baker Mayfield’s First Trip to Pittsburgh
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Baker Mayfield, Ben Roethlisberger
Betting odds: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: Steelers -8
- Over/Under: 49
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: In terms of betting action, this is one of the more boring games on the Week 8 slate.
Pittsburgh has moved from -7.5 to -8 behind 66% of spread bets at the time of writing, but the line has yet to approach any key numbers or attract attention from professionals (see live betting data here). — PJ Walsh
Expanding on the trend above, head coach Mike Tomlin is 4-7 against the spread off a bye in his career, and the Steelers were favored in three of their past four ATS losses.
Tomlin and the Steelers have also failed to cover in their past four games against Cleveland. And while they didn’t lose any of the games (they did tie one), the four games were decided by a total margin of 10 points. The Browns have been close. — Evan Abrams
On the flip side, Tomlin has been great as a seven-plus-point home favorite in Pittsburgh, compiling a 21-12 ATS record (63.6%) for a robust 26.5% ROI, while covering by an average of almost four points per game.
Over that stretch, the Steelers have a straight-up record of 29-4. — Stuckey
Ben Roethlisberger is 10-0 SU, but only 6-4 ATS in his career at home against the Browns. — Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Steelers defensive line vs. Browns offensive line
The strength of the Steelers’ D lies up front along the defensive line. Despite being one of only 10 teams to have had a bye this season, Pittsburgh ranks tied for second in the NFL with 22.0 sacks — trailing only the Baltimore Ravens’ 27.0.
That spells doom for a Browns offensive line that has allowed a league-high 31 sacks. Cleveland has also already allowed 51 QB hits — the fifth-most in the NFL.
Expect to see Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt generating pressure up the gut, while Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt add pressure from the edge — in addition to the blitzers you know Pittsburgh will be sending.
Add in the fact that the secondary plays a scheme that doesn’t allow quarterbacks to run and it could be a long day for Baker Mayfield.
The mismatch also carries over to the other side of the ball, as Roethlisberger should have a much cleaner pocket behind an offensive line that ranks second in the NFL in adjusted sack rate.
Pittsburgh has given up only nine sacks and 23 quarterback hits all season. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Steelers
Browns free safety Damarious Randall (groin/ankle) is expected to play Sunday despite not practicing on Wednesday and Thursday, while wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee), cornerback E.J. Gaines (concussion) and linebacker Joe Schobert (hamstring) aren’t expected to suit up. Tight end David Njoku (knee) should be considered questionable.
The Steelers are expected to welcome back safety Morgan Burnett (groin) and linebacker L.J. Fort (ankle), but right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) could be sidelined. Running back Le’Veon Bell remains missing in action.
DFS edge: Everyone is aware the Steelers offense is in a good spot this week but so is the Pittsburgh defense, as it’s just the 13th-most expensive unit on DraftKings at $2,900.
Bet to watch: Steelers -5.5 First Half
We mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating: Roethlisberger is 10-0 SU against the Browns at home and Tomlin is 29-4 SU when he’s at least a seven-point favorite.
No matter how you slice it, these two never seem to come up short in this spot.
The Steelers also boast a huge trench advantage (sacks, adjusted sack rate) and even if Mayfield does stay upright, he is only completing 61.4% of passes in a clean pocket, which ranks 36th of 38 qualified quarterbacks.
The Browns defense has also been a little Jekyll and Hyde this season. Yes, it is second in defensive DVOA and first in pass defense, but in three of its last four games it has given up 26, 38, and 45 points to the Bucs, Chargers and Raiders.
I think there’s a chance the first half starts with a fast tempo given the Steelers offense (26.78 sec/play in first half) is the sixth-fastest unit this season, which creates more time for Antonio Brown to continue this:
Antonio Brown’s last 10 games against Cleveland:
9 receptions-93 yards-1 TD (16 targets)
2-22-1 (3) pic.twitter.com/Sf4IUNU8ZP
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 23, 2018
This all leads me to backing the Steelers to take a decent lead into the locker room. — Abrams
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.