Browns-Steelers Betting Preview: Trends, Props, Pick For AFC Wild Card Game

These teams know each other quite well

by

January 8, 2021

The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday will square off for the second time in as many weeks.

The Browns solidified their spot in the 2020 NFL playoffs by edging out the Steelers, who took their foot off the gas a bit in Week 17. Pittsburgh now will host Cleveland for the final matchup on the six-game docket of Super Wild Card Weekend.

This will be the AFC North rivals’ third meeting of the campaign. The Steelers trounced the Browns 38-7 in Week 6 at Heinz Field.

Here is our betting preview for the first Browns-Steelers playoff tilt since 2002. The line and total are per consensus data, while the props are provided by FanDuel.

Cleveland Browns at (-6) Pittsburgh Steelers
Total: 47.5

BETTING TRENDS
The Browns were among the worst cover teams in the league over the course of the regular season. Cleveland finished the campaign with a 6-10 against-the-spread record, and location didn’t prove to be a difference-maker. The Browns were 3-5 ATS at FirstEnergy Stadium, as well as away from their home turf.

The Steelers, meanwhile, were one of the best cover teams in 2020. Mike Tomlin’s bunch put together a 10-6 ATS record and were one of five teams to notch double-digit ATS victories. Pittsburgh, much like Cleveland, saw no difference against the spread when it came to home versus away games. The Steelers were 5-3 on both fronts.

Both teams’ collective regular-season performances suggest the Over is the smart play this weekend. Cleveland saw the Over hit in nine of its 16 games, while Pittsburgh notched eight Overs and one push.

PROPS
First-half line, total
Steelers -3.5, 24

First-touchdown scorer
James Conner +600
Nick Chubb +750
Diontae Johnson +850
Chase Claypool +950
JuJu Smith-Schuster +950
Jarvis Landry +1300
Kareem Hunt +1400

Passing yards
Ben Roethlisberger over/under 283.5 yards
Baker Mayfield over/under 234.5 yards

Rushing yards
Nick Chubb over/under 70.5 yards
James Conner over/under 50.5 yards

Receiving yards
Diontae Johnson over/under 57.5 yards
Jarvis Landry over/under 53.5 yards
JuJu Smith-Schuster over/under 49.5 yards
Kareem Hunt over/under 17.5 yards

PICK
Browns +6

There are a handful of reasons not to like the Browns on Sunday night. In addition to their poor 2020 ATS record, Cleveland will not be at full strength against Pittsburgh. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio will be unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Still, we believe the Browns will be competitive in their first postseason game in nearly two decades. Pittsburgh’s defense has shown some cracks of late, particularly against the run. The Steelers allowed an average of roughly 144 rushing yards per game over their final four contests of the regular season. Most recently, T.J. Watt and Co. gave up 192 on the ground to Cleveland in Week 17.

The Steelers should be able find offensive success, too, as the Browns’ defense is nothing to write home about. We just believe Cleveland will be able to keep pace.

To be frank, we like Pittsburgh to advance to the divisional round. But at this point, we believe these longtime foes are fairly evenly matched, so the Browns should be able to keep it within a touchdown.

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images

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