Steelers vs Browns Odds, Pick, Prediction: NFL Week 18 Betting Preview
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: T.J. Watt.
- The Steelers are 2.5-point favorites against the Browns.
- Pittsburgh can make the playoffs with a win and losses from the Patriots and Dolphins.
- Blake Krass previews the game and makes his Steelers vs. Browns pick below.
As we examine Steelers vs. Browns odds, we find one of the strangest final regular-season weekends of the NFL we will ever see. The playoff scenarios in the AFC have been thrown off, but things are relatively simple for the Steelers.
The Steelers need a win and some help to make the playoffs. Along with winning, they need the Jets — quarterbacked by Joe Flacco — to beat the Dolphins and the Bills to beat the Patriots to slide into the seventh seed.
For the Browns, their season is basically over. However, don't overlook the fact that they can ruin the Steelers' postseason aspirations.
There are whispers of Kevin Stefanski being on the hot seat while Deshaun Watson has had an unimpressive start to his Browns career. For all of those factors, I expect the Browns to be highly motivated to win this game.
Steelers vs. Browns Odds
-118o / -104u
-118o / -104u
Steelers vs. Browns Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Steelers and Browns match up statistically:
Steelers vs. Browns DVOA Breakdown
The Browns won the first matchup between these two, 29-17, way back in Week 3. However, these teams are now completely different.
Notably, both teams have different starting quarterbacks. Jacoby Brissett was starting for the Browns and Mitchell Trubisky for the Steelers — those two have been pushed aside for Watson and Kenny Pickett. And perhaps more importantly, T.J. Watt was sidelined for Pittsburgh and its defense has been dramatically better since his return.
Bet Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh at FanDuel
The Browns have averaged only 16.8 PPG since DeShaun Watson returned in Week 13. His play has been subpar and the offense is just not clicking. In fact, their highest-scoring game under Watson was in his first game against the Texans, when Cleveland posted two defensive touchdowns and a punt return score, but no offensive TDs.
The Steelers defense has moved up to 11th in defensive DVOA, but more importantly, is fourth in defensive rush DVOA. The Browns are still a run-first team with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt; the Steelers have the recipe to stop them. The Browns will also be without stud tackle Jack Conklin, which will only leave Watson and his running backs more exposed.
For the Browns, there has been strife this week around Jadeveon Clowney saying he doesn't want to be in Cleveland and subsequently being sent home. Apparently, this started to bubble over last week when Clowney refused to play on 1st and 2nd downs against the Ravens.
If all of that is true, then I think removing Clowney's toxic behavior will actually help the Browns defense. They should be motivated to prove that they don't need Clowney.
The Steelers' offense has looked better under Kenny Pickett the last few weeks, but they still have not scored more than 24 points in a game over their last six. Like the Browns, they should be run-first and rely on their defense to win.
On top of the bad offenses, these are just two under teams. The Steelers have gone under in nine of their last 11 home games. The Browns have gone under in six straight games overall.
Outdoor divisional unders are 34-19-1 (64.2%) this season. When divisional teams face off for the second time, defenses also have a big advantage scheme-wise.
Neither of these offenses can be trusted. Both teams have starting QBs that have only played a handful of games this season and neither has been able to produce much of anything.
Both teams also run the ball a ton and possessions should be severely limited. The Steelers defense will want to dominate in their first of many matchups against Watson. The Browns defense will also be highly motivated to stop the Steelers from making the postseason.
At the end of the day, the under is the best path here. The Browns would also make a strong teaser leg going through every key number in a low-total game. I like the under a lot over the key number of 40, but would play it down to 39.5.
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