In Browns rematch against Steelers, where should you put our money?

Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

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Browns at Steelers Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Browns -1
  • Over/Under: 38.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

To get updated NFL odds, check out this page

It was only two weeks ago that these two teams faced off in a primetime game that will be remembered for the brawl between Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph, not the final score.

And while a lot has changed in the short time since — with Garrett serving an indefinite suspension and Rudolph benched for Devlin Hodges — this is still a heated divisional rivalry.

Our experts preview the matchup from a betting perspective, featuring analysis of the biggest mismatch and a staff pick.

Browns vs. Steelers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) remains limited in practice, but has yet to miss a game due to this injury. Defensive lineman Olivier Vernon (knee) has returned to limited practice after missing the past few games, which is encouraging — the Browns need him back after they lost Garrett due to suspension.

James Conner (shoulder) returned to limited practice on Thursday, but wil likely still be considered questionable. JuJu Smith-Schuster cleared the concussion protocol, but he’s still missing practice due to a knee injury. Given that he hasn’t returned yet, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him ruled out again. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Friday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Browns Pass Catchers vs. Pittsburgh Pass Defense

The Browns are winners of three straight and have started to think about the playoffs. The key to their turnaround has been their passing game efficiency, led by quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Over the past three games, Mayfield has eight total touchdowns and just one interception. And while Beckham is still their WR1, their most productive receiver recently has been Jarvis Landry.

With Landry working the short to intermediate areas of the field, and with Beckham still a deep threat on every play, the Browns have become a difficult passing offense to defend. It was just two weeks that Mayfield tossed two touchdown against the Steelers then ran for a third after Beckham was ruled own at the 1-yard line on a 42-yard reception.

The Browns will also have the services of starting tight end David Njoku, who has returned from a broken wrist in Week 2. Pittsburgh has allowed the 11th-most receptions (55) to tight ends and third most touchdowns (six).

The Steelers are coming off an uninspiring 16-10 win over a still-winless Cincinnati team, in which they allowed the overall WR13 performance to Tyler Boyd. This week represents a huge upgrade in quarterback difficulty, going from rookie Ryan Finley to Mayfield.

Pittsburgh’s defense will likely focus on limiting the production from Nick Chubb, but will also need to limit Cleveland’s revived passing attack. With Beckham, Landry, Njoku and pass-catching running back Kareem Hunt, the Steelers pass defense will face one of their toughest challenges this season. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Pick’ em
  • Projected Total: 41

Garrett is a huge loss for the Browns defense — you could even argue he’s worth a half to a full point against the spread — so I was a bit shocked to see the Browns initially open as 3-point favorites.

The decision to bench Rudolph in favor of Hodges is more of a lateral move that isn’t impacting my Pittsburgh power rating. The Steelers are likely to have a fairly run-heavy conservative game plan and lean on their defense to keep this game close.

Mike Tomlin usually does well coming up with winning game plans in these spots and has now gone 33-18 (64.7%) ATS as an underdog in his career. As of writing, 68% of the action has come in on the Browns (see live public betting data here), so it’s worth seeing if the market sends this line up to 3 before backing the Steelers. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Steelers +1

I circled this classic Tomlin spot right after the Thursday night melee in Cleveland.

He’s not the greatest X’s and O’s coach, but I consider Tomlin to be one of the best motivators in the league. His teams thrive when he can fire up the locker room and take an us-against-the-world mentality. And what better spot to fire up a locker room than at home against a hated division opponent that recently had their best defensive player attack your quarterback with his helmet?

I expect the Steelers to come out with their hair on fire — especially on defense — right from the jump. That could spell disaster for a very undisciplined Browns team playing in a game that should be refereed very tightly given what happened in the last meeting.

Hodges is expected to get the start under center, which I actually prefer. Some rate Rudolph better, but I have them about equal overall, and Rudolph just had lost all of his confidence and simply refused to throw the ball down the field — two things I’m not currently worried about with the former Samford QB.

The Steelers defensive line, which ranks second in adjusted sack rate, should dominate the line of scrimmage against a poor Browns offensive line and get to Mayfield on the regular. Mayfield is completing only a tad more than 45% of his passes under pressure with five touchdowns and five interceptions.

I think the same can be said on the offensive side of the ball as the Browns will sorely miss Garrett against a rock-solid Steelers offensive line that ranks third in adjusted sack rate.

The Browns have covered for me three weeks in a row, but this is a spot to jump off the wagon. I expect a classic mistake-filled Browns performance against a fired-up Steelers team in front of a raucous crowd.

Wait to see if a 3 pops, but I like the Steelers at any dog number.