NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Browns vs. Steelers: 2 Ways Our Experts Are Betting Monday Night Football

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Browns vs. Steelers: 2 Ways Our Experts Are Betting Monday Night Football article feature image

Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is pressured by a Browns defender

  • This could be Ben Roethlisberger's last game at Heinz Field, and it's against none other than the rival Browns.
  • With playoff hopes on the line for the Steelers and the Browns ready to make a statement after being eliminated from playoff contention, here are our top bets for this matchup.

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions

Browns +3
Najee Harris Over 17.5 Rush Attempts

Browns +3

Brandon Anderson: You’ve played poker before, right? If you’re a good poker player, you’ve probably learned an important lesson at some point: Play the man, not the cards.

In a game of cards, almost no hand is perfect or unbeatable, and none are guaranteed losers. You need to know how valuable the hand you’ve been dealt is, but you also have to play the field in front of you. Two-seven off can win a hand if you make the right bet. Pocket aces can lose with a bad beat or a wrong bet. Heck, even a straight flush can lose  —  all it takes is a better straight flush.

You can’t just play the cards. You always have to play the context.

The final Monday Night Football of the regular NFL season is a lesson on playing the number, not the team.

I loved the Steelers in this spot. Loved them — I wrote about betting them in three separate stories over the past week and mentioned it twice on The Action Network Podcast — but there’s a very important clarification here: I loved the Steelers at +3.5, not the Steelers at any number. I loved the Steelers because we were getting more than a field goal of value on what felt like a coin flip game and because Mike Tomlin’s teams provide great historical value as underdogs.

Well, they’re no longer underdogs. The line flipped overnight because the Browns have been eliminated from the playoffs after Sunday’s results around the league, and suddenly the Browns are three-point underdogs instead of 3.5-point favorites (check real-time NFL odds here).

And now we have to play the man, not the cards.

Remember, our read on this game is that these teams are roughly equal and that this should be a near pick’em. When the Steelers were significant underdogs at the key number, that gave us value. And that means we’re getting similar value now on the Browns for the exact same reason.

Don’t think for a second the Browns don’t care about this game now. Cleveland last won in Pittsburgh in the regular season in 2003. The Browns are 2-24-1 lifetime against Ben Roethlisberger. You don’t think this team would love nothing more than to ruin Big Ben’s last home game ever in front of a national TV crowd and knock their division rival out of the playoffs? Rest assured, the Browns will be every bit as motivated to get the win tonight.

Virtually nothing changed in this game over the last 24 hours. There was no COVID outbreak, no sudden injury news, no weather change. This line swung almost a full touchdown because the books know average Joes will think the Steelers still want to try with their low chances of making the playoffs (despite them dropping significantly as a result of Sunday's games), and that Cleveland doesn’t since it was eliminated yesterday.

Don’t be that average Joe.

These teams are about equal, and the Steelers' run defense could get gashed by Nick Chubb and the Browns. That’s the biggest mismatch on the field tonight, and it’s in Cleveland’s favor. Now that we’re getting points on Cleveland, Browns +3 or better is the best angle on this game if you haven't bet it yet.

Najee Harris Over 17.5 Rush Attempts

Michael Arinze: The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns on Monday night in what could be Ben Roethlisberger's final game at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh originally opened as a three-point underdog, but now the line has gone in the other direction, and it's the Steelers that are a 2.5-point favorite. Much of that movement has to do with the Browns being eliminated from playoff contention following the Chargers' win over the Broncos. But since I already took a better price on the Steelers earlier in the week as part of a two-team teaser, I see no reason to add to my position.

However, if you like Pittsburgh and missed the best of the number, you could back the Steelers in another way by taking one of their player props. One that's certainly caught my eye is Najee Harris' rushing attempts prop, which is available at 17.5.

Harris will be up against a Cleveland defense that ranks in the bottom half of Football Outsiders' run DVOA metric. In their previous meeting in Week 8, the Alabama product carried the ball 26 times for 91 yards. It's worth noting the game had perfect football weather with an average temperature of 57 degrees. Yet tonight, the temperature could be as low as 27 degrees.

Unlike Cleveland, Pittsburgh still has a path to the playoffs as it's yet to be mathematically eliminated. And without much on the line for the Browns, they'll likely need to make some business decisions in the trenches if they plan on slowing down Harris. Thus, it wouldn't surprise me if Pittsburgh continuously feeds the rookie rusher as a way to break Cleveland's will early in the game.

In Week 16, Harris carried the ball 19 times in a 36-10 loss to the Chiefs. When he's carried the ball at least 19 times this season, he tends to have at least 20 carries the following week. This trend has occurred in five of his seven games this season.

After shopping around, I found that DraftKings has the best price on the board with 17.5 carries at -125. I'll risk a half-unit on the over, and I'd play it up to 19.

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