Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Odds & Free Picks

January 3, 8:15 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
CLE -3/PIT +3

The Cleveland Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC North showdown at Heinz Field on Monday Night Football. The winner of this game gets a boost to their postseason cause, while the loser would be either out of it or need ten stars to line upright in the final week of the regular season. Neither team responded well to the urgency last week. The Browns took a 24-22 loss to the Packers, while the Steelers were battered by the Chiefs, 36-10. Who can get back on the winning track this week?

Good Spot for Pittsburgh?

In Cleveland about two months ago, the Steelers went into Cleveland and put up the 15-10 win. The Browns' offense was in stitches with TJ Watt and the Steelers' pass-rush all over Baker Mayfield. Nick Chubb couldn't get off, and the Browns' offense was rendered impotent. Not that the Steelers set the world on fire with their 15 points, but Ben Roethlisberger threw for 266 yards, with Diontae Johnson having a big game, along with RB Najee Harris also getting some good production. The Steelers look for more of the same this week.

The Steelers are at home late in the season in a crunch-time scenario. This is a position with which Roethlisberger is very familiar, and even if the bulk of his offensive skill-guys haven't been in these spots yet, that kind of presence can go a long way in these games. The combination of the opportunistic and playmaking Steelers' defense and the mistake-prone Cleveland offense looms as a major matchup concern. Not to portray the Steelers' offense as some surefire unit, but Cleveland can really flop on a given week.

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Hope for the Browns

While it doesn't surface consistently and it didn't at all the first time they played the Steelers, the Browns would appear to have some assets that should trouble the Steelers. Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt (questionable), and others should be able to take it to a substandard Steelers' run defense. It's the worst in the league, and it shows. And while the Browns' defense has been all over the place this season despite respectable stats overall, they might be the more-bankable entity in this context.

With three straight games decided by exactly two points, the Browns haven't been thriving, but they're not getting embarrassed. Actually, to keep it within two points at Lambeau against the Packers with Mayfield throwing four picks is impressive in its own way. In the last three weeks, we saw the Steelers beat the Titans, which was impressive, but sandwiching that are two games where there was a lot of suffering. At this point, it seems easier to nudge the Steelers into that really awful form.

Hurdles for the Steelers This Week?

When we get to this point of the season, certain Pittsburgh liabilities might resound to a greater degree. Not having a line that's capable of springing big run plays is one thing. And they've been pretty adept in getting RB Najee Harris to be productive despite not actually running the ball very well. But in recent weeks, we've seen the flip side of that coin also not be very promising, either, as opposing offensive lines are opening up gigantic holes on this Pittsburgh front. Pittsburgh can bring the noise with the pass-rush, and TJ Watt certainly thrived the first time in this game, but Cleveland still seems to possess a pronounced overall edge in the trenches along both lines of scrimmage. That could pay off this week.

Browns at Steelers Prediction

The Steelers are the kind of team that can regularly buck their form in a one-game window. At home, with big stakes against a Cleveland team that is wholly unreliable would appear to be one of those spots. It's just hard to see them getting through 60 minutes with a desperate Cleveland team with those shortcomings not manifesting. The sometimes-dysfunctional depths that this Browns' offense can sink to is a concern, as is the possibility that Roethlisberger just manages to somehow find some answers, but I see the respective calibers of each team's run-game/run-defense surfacing, as the Browns get to the finish line ahead. I'll take the Browns.

Free Pick: 
Take the Browns