NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Browns vs. Steelers: An Expert’s Guide To Betting Monday Night Football
Getty Images. Pictured: Browns RB Nick Chubb, Steelers RB Najee Harris
- NFL odds for Browns vs. Steelers have swung up to six points in the final 24 hours before kickoff, with the Browns moving from a 3-point favorite to a 3-point underdog.
- Our expert updated his picks and predictions for Monday Night Football accordingly below.
NFL Odds: Browns vs. Steelers
|Time||8:15 p.m. ET|
For the final Monday Night Football game of the regular season, a pair of AFC North rivals will meet in Pittsburgh with each team’s season basically over.
Heading into Week 17, the Browns and Steelers each had around a 15% chance of punching a ticket to the postseason. However, due to the outcome of Sunday’s games, the Browns have been officially eliminated from playoff contention while the Steelers saw their probability drop significantly.
Pittsburgh does at least have a mathematical path, though. This is what needs to happen:
- Steelers win their final two games (vs. Browns, at Ravens)
- Colts lose to Jaguars in Week 18
The latter part of that equation looks problematic for Pittsburgh. Per my latest numbers, I project the Steelers’ chances of making it at around 2.5%.
Besides the playoff implications, the biggest storyline of this game might be the fact this could be Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game since entering the league in 2004. Can Big Ben give the Pittsburgh crowd one last thrill and keep the Steelers’ slim playoff hopes alive for one more week? Or will the Browns play spoiler and get revenge on a 15-10 home loss earlier this season?
Let’s take a closer look.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Browns vs. Steelers Injury Report
- S Ronnie Harrison (ankle): Out
- CB Troy Hill (knee): Out
- S John Johnson (hamstring): Out
- RB Kareem Hunt (ankle): Questionable
- DT Malik Jackson (knee): Questionable
- LB Buddy Johnson (foot): Out
- C Kendrick Green (calf): Questionable
- P Pressley Harvin (personal/illness): Questionable
Browns vs. Steelers Matchup
|Browns Offense||DVOA Rank||Steelers Defense|
|Browns Defense||DVOA Rank||Steelers Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Browns Offensive Struggles
The Browns offense has been fairly disappointing, especially relative to preseason expectations (though injuries, COVID and weather have certainly played a part in deflating some of their season-long metrics).
Overall, Cleveland has been a league-average offense (15th in EPA per play), even when adjusted for opponent (14th in DVOA). The Browns still boast one of the NFL’s most potent rushing attacks (second in DVOA), but Baker Mayfield has really suffered from injuries and overall accuracy issues. He also still struggles under pressure, which could be extremely problematic against the Steelers’ front.
On the other side of the ball, the defense has rated slightly below league-average. However, I actually think the unit got a little unlucky based on the discrepancy between its early-down and third-down metrics. The Browns just ran a bit poorly on late downs, which inherently have more variance.
In my eyes, this is a slightly above-average Browns team that was held back by subpar quarterback play and a few bounces that didn’t go their way.
Steelers Surprising Soft Spot
We also know what the Steelers are at this point.
They have a very poor offense (23rd in EPA per play) as a result of an atrocious offensive line and an aging quarterback. This is a bottom-10 unit that needs to throw in obvious passing situations in order to consistently move the ball.
That’s not a recipe for sustained success.
It’s not surprising the offense was disappointing, but the drop-off on the other side of the ball wasn’t expected.
The secondary has performed at a slightly below league-average level, but the run defense has fallen off a cliff. For the season, the Steelers rank 28th in DVOA against the run and 24th in EPA per rush. They are on pace to go down as the worst run defense in the history of the franchise. It’s been a consistent problem all season and has seemingly gotten worse of late.
Overall, the Steelers are a below-average team that’s had a few bounces go their way in close games in order to still have an outside playoff chance — even if almost close to zero.
Browns vs. Steelers Predictions
As I mentioned previously, the Steelers have had Lady Luck on their side throughout the season. They are 7-2-1 in one-possession games, including 2-0-1 in overtime. And the two losses came against the Chargers and Vikings in games the Steelers made wild late comebacks after trailing by three possessions in the second half.
No matter how you spin it, Pittsburgh has benefited from quite a bit of good fortune in close games, which has led to a slightly inflated record.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Browns have gone just 4-6 in one-possession games. If just one of those went the other way, we are talking about a Browns team that could be hosting the Bengals with a shot at winning the division next week.
The Browns are clearly the better team here and should have plenty of success running against a porous Steelers run defense. Not only can that keep the chains moving, but it can also keep Mayfield out of obvious passing situations in which he’d be very vulnerable against T.J. Watt and Co.
I also think the Browns have a major coaching edge when it comes to in-game decision making — you can count on Kevin Stefanski to be aggressive when he needs to be, but not so much with Mike Tomlin.
I project the Browns as favorites of just under three points, so I’m not in a rush to bet this one pre-game, especially when you consider some of the other factors that make this a unique matchup.
With the Browns now officially eliminated from the playoffs, will they sit Mayfield and/or other key players who have been dealing with injuries?
On the other hand, Cleveland can play even looser. These are still NFL players with incentive to perform well in a division game in primetime.
Here’s how I’m looking at it: I expect the Steelers to come out with their hair on fire in front of a raucous crowd on Monday night in what is likely Big Ben’s final home game. We’ve also seen them come out firing on all cylinders plenty of times as underdogs in a classic Tomlin spot.
There are quite a few betting trends that support the Steelers in this situation, per our Action Labs data:
- Tomlin is 43-23-2 (65.2%) against the spread (ATS) as an underdog, making him the most profitable of 137 coaches since 2003.
- Tomlin is 35-16 ATS (68.6%) as an underdog after the month of September.
- Tomlin is 13-3-2 ATS as a home underdog.
- Stefanski is 1-9 ATS in the division since arriving in Cleveland.
However, that eventually wears off, and the Browns have plenty of matchup advantages I like on both sides of the ball. I also think Stefanski will make the more optimal decisions on fourth downs as the game progresses. Therefore, I’d love for the Browns to go down early in order to live-bet them at +3 or better in the first half.
That’s obviously dependent on who (if anybody) ends up sitting for the Browns, so make sure you follow me on Twitter and/or in the Action app to be notified if I end up betting anything live.
Pick: Live bet Browns | Bet to: +3 or better
Editor’s note: This section was written before the spread swung from Browns -3 to Steelers -3 overnight into Monday. Our expert is still waiting to bet this game until it’s clear who is playing for the Browns, but sees value in betting on Browns +3 before kickoff with the recent line move.
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