NFL Week 17: Steelers vs. Browns odds, preview, and pick
The AFC East has its latest division title winner, as the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday to earn bragging rights and their 12th win of the season.
As a result of their come-from-behind win against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16, the Steelers will now take the field with the AFC's No. 2 seed on the line. Their opponent in the final week of the regular season is the Cleveland Browns, who are locked in a five-way tie for one of the three AFC wildcard spots.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
Sun, January 3 2021, 6:00 PM
Steelers had been reeling
Prior to last week’s win, the Steelers were in free fall. They lost three straight games and failed to cover in each. The Steelers got off to a 11-0 start, however, and were 8-3 against the spread during that stretch.
Their defense has been elite all season, but the offense has looked completely different in the last month. Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league during that time. He has failed to average more than six yards per pass attempt in five straight games and has shown no ability to get the ball down the field.
The Steelers are underdogs against the Browns, who are 10-5 straight up but just 6-9 ATS.
Cleveland is battling COVID-19
While the Steelers have struggled with offensive inefficiencies, the Browns suffered attrition in Week 16, as COVID-19 protocols left them without three top wide receivers.
With practice-squad receivers forced into starting action, the Browns offense never got off the ground against the Jets. If Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, and Donovan Peoples-Jones all continue to test negative throughout the week, however, they will be eligible to return in Week 17.
Getting their starters back will be imperative to the Browns' success against the potent Steelers defense.
The Browns will pull away in the second half
With their division title locked up and little difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 seed, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will likely give many of his starters an opportunity to rest leading up to the playoffs. It won’t come as a surprise if many of the players with nagging injuries or greater importance to the roster see limited action, which is why the Browns are a touchdown favorite.
Will the Browns cover the spread against the Steelers in Week 17?
While backup quarterback Mason Rudolph might be a better option at this point for the Steelers, the lack of motivation and a full-strength roster, against a team fighting for their playoff life, will make this a second-half blowout.
The home team is 5-0 ATS in the last five matchups between these teams.