Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
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The Cleveland Browns are on the point of a primary playoff look since 2002. They’ve loved only one season with double-digit wins since 1994, and that was in 2007 after they missed the postseason because the Steelers received the AFC North.
The drought they’ve suffered has seen loads of false dawns, in addition to simply the second 0-16 season in NFL historical past.
And that lengthy stretch of failure and struggling may nonetheless prolong to a minimum of yet another season ought to they lose on Sunday and different outcomes go towards them in a really difficult AFC playoff race.
As if the ominous look of their six-time Super Bowl-winning Division rival wasn’t sufficient to fret their supporters, a surprising loss to the New York Jets final week could have actually put the shivers up a fanbase aware of painful losses and false dawns.
That loss dropped the Browns to 10-5 when they need to’ve clinched their January soccer ticket. Now, a loss in Week 17 mixed with a win for Indianapolis over the basement-dwelling Jaguars may see them outdoors the newly-expanded playoffs regardless of their 10 wins.
But there have been some extraordinary circumstances surrounding that Jets loss. Cleveland misplaced a bunch of starters resulting from Covid for the sport, together with their prime 4 match receivers. QB Baker Mayfield was throwing passes to gamers final week he’d have barely shared a snap with in follow.
Not a super situation, even when the Browns’ most potent offensive weapon is their working combo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
They’ve mixed for 1,763 dashing yards and 22 offensive touchdowns from the workforce’s whole of 45, rating among the many greatest dashing groups in the league.
Combined with their Myles Garrett-led defence they’re going to be hopeful of controlling this sport and ending the Browns prolonged absence from the postseason, although persevering with Covid points for Denzel Ward and Malcolm Smith imply they won’t be at full energy this week.
Is Cleveland’s curse going to strike once more?
The stakes aren’t as excessive for the Steelers as they’re assured a playoff spot, it is only a query of seeding.
This sport may’ve mattered much more. A month in the past the belief was they’d be vying with the Chiefs for the AFC’s primary seed in weeks 16 and 17.
But Washington, Buffalo and Cincinnati upset Mike Tomlin’s workforce, calling into query their Super Bowl credentials regardless of an 11-0 begin to the season because the offence froze in December.
Running again James Connor has been inconsistent and injured together with his back-ups failing to impress, whereas Ben Roethlisberger has regarded just like the 38-year-old QB he’s as he throws the ball too rapidly to keep away from hits and failing to attach with the gifted younger receivers round him.
They may’ve been coming in on 4 straight defeats however a second-half comeback final week towards the erratic Colts rescued a 28-24 win which means the Steelers may end second in the AFC and face the seventh seeds in subsequent weekend’s Wildcard spherical.
If they lose, the Bills are poised to overhaul them, although the brand new 14-team playoff format has considerably diluted the significance of ending place given it has eliminated the second seed bye-week.
Coach Tomlin definitely sees it that means as he has determined it is not value enjoying all his starters this week. Big Ben will sit out this sport, giving Mason Rudolph an opportunity to reacquaint himself with Myles Garrett after final season’s confrontation.
Will Myles Garrett get a private foul on Mason Rudolph?
? GuessOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) December 31, 2020
Center Maurkice Pouncey can even be rested, and their defence shall be with out TJ Watt and Cameron Heyward, two big gamers, in line with stories.
Those selections may have a huge impact on whether or not the Browns break their playoff hoodoo.
The line-up strikes by the Steelers imply that the betting line as swung from near a decide’em means towards Cleveland by greater than a landing because the Browns clearly need to win greater than Pittsburgh. I believe the market has gone too far.
While Big Ben has the expertise and Mason Rudolph didn’t impress final season when stepping in for the veteran, Roethlisberger has commonly regarded removed from his greatest this season regardless of the Steelers robust report. It’s cheap to marvel how a lot of a step down the back-up is proper now.
The defensive absences could possibly be extra necessary. Watt is a defensive participant of the yr candidate as he leads the league in sacks in 2020. Heyward is an enormous presence alongside the defensive position and this defence is already lacking necessary gamers like Devin Bush and Bud Dupree for the season, although they nonetheless rank because the primary unit in the league by DVOA, which accounts for energy of schedule.
If the defence can include Chubb and Hunt there’s an opportunity they may beat the Browns with out the offence having to do all that a lot. The return of Jarvis Landry and the remainder of the Cleveland receivers offers Mayfield an opportunity, however that is the primary passing D in the league he is going through.
I’ve to take the Steelers getting 8.5 points at 10/11, particularly after they obtained their act collectively final week versus the Colts.
On the whole, 42.5 is a pretty low line, however so many tendencies level to below – 15 of the Steelers final 20 video games on the street have gone below, and 11 of the final 16 conferences between these two groups have did not hit the whole goal – so Under is the wiser choice at 10/11, particularly with Cleveland greatest working the ball and the Steelers offence hit-n-miss just lately.
For TD scorers, it is exhausting to look previous Nick Chubb as a primary scorer choice. He’s solely began 11 video games this season and has 11 dashing touchdowns. At 4/1, he is the clear play for first scorer.
There are loads of potential scorers in the anytime market, but when we assume this can be a tight, tense contest, I’d be inclined to take a look at the Steelers D to get to Baker Mayfield and so they may give you one other rating. 7/1 is first rate value on it, and I’d counsel a small punt on them to attain first may be value it if Cleveland’s playoff dream turns into a nightmare.