NFL Week 6: Browns vs. Steelers odds, picks, & predictions
A very important battle for the AFC North will take place Sunday, when the Cleveland Browns travel to Pittsburgh to face off with the unbeaten Steelers.
It's one of the biggest games of the NFL’s Week 6 action, so let's dig in and find some betting angles to turn a profit.
Sun, October 18 2020, 5:00 PM
Cleveland is winning as injuries pile up
The Browns have rebounded from their blowout loss to the Ravens in the first week of the season, with four straight wins. They have won despite a rash of injuries to key players, including star running back Nick Chubb. However, the Browns have built depth through the NFL Draft the past few years, and they have been able to persevere.
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has had a solid start to the season, with two touchdowns passes in each of their four wins. He had his first multi-interception game last weekend against the Colts, but threw for a season-high 247 yards in a 32-23 win. He has been reduced to somewhat of a game manager. The Browns have thrown for the fifth-fewest yards in the league, and they lead the NFL in rushing yardage.
Mayfield’s reduced mistakes and the dominating run game have helped Cleveland score the fourth-most points in the NFL. The Browns have scored at least 30 points in each of their four victories this season, but they have been forced to keep scoring, as their defense has allowed the sixth-most points and the third-most passing yards this season.
Big Ben has bounced back
The last time Cleveland won in Pittsburgh, George W. Bush was in his first term in the White House, and Ben Roethlisberger was playing in his senior season at Miami-Ohio. Big Ben hopes to make it 17 straight wins against the Browns at home this weekend, and he has played well after he missed last year because of injury.
The Steelers QB has thrown just one interception in 143 attempts this season and has racked up more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has been helped by the emergence of multiple weapons around him, including wide receiver Chase Claypool. The rookie broke out in a big way last weekend, when he caught seven balls for 110 yards and three touchdowns in the Steelers' 38-29 win over Philadelphia.
On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh has gotten back to what was long its calling card — staunch defense. The Steelers have the second-best rush defense in the NFL, with 64 yards allowed per game.
|Team||Passing yards||Rushing yards||Passing yards allowed||Rushing yards allowed|
This was on display against the Eagles. After the Steelers allowed a 74-yard touchdown run, they conceded just 20 rushing yards on Philadelphia’s other 15 carries.
Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh injury report
As of Tuesday, it looks like the Browns will be without Chubb again, but Mayfield’s rib injury in the fourth quarter against the Colts appears to be minor. Cornerback Greedy Williams is headed to the IR, and guard Wyatt Teller is week to week, per the coaching staff. Safety Karl Joseph and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi are expected to return, after they missed last week's game.
Pittsburgh lost offensive lineman David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey to injury Sunday, along with wide receiver Diontae Johnson. While the latter two should be fine for the Browns game, DeCastro is unlikely to play this week, which is a huge loss to the offense.
Browns vs. Steelers betting trends
Cleveland has covered in its last two games, which ended a string of five consecutive games where it failed to cover. The total has gone Over in four of the Browns' five games this season, including the last three. However, they have covered just once in their last eight road games.
Pittsburgh has covered just twice in its last six games but twice in the last three. The total has gone Over in three of the Steelers' last four games, but the previous six contests before that all went under. They also have scored either 26 or 28 points in their last three games.
In their last 10 meetings, the Steelers have won eight times, with one loss and a tie. However, they have only covered the spread in five of those games. That is partly because they tend to be heavier favorites against the Browns. They also have defeated Cleveland 16 straight times at home, with an average winning margin of more than 12 points.
With the line shortened, it makes it much easier to bet the Steelers. Their dominant run defense should be able to keep Cleveland in check, and with more pressure on him to win a game rather than manage it, Mayfield will make one mistake too many and allow Pittsburgh to claim victory and first place in the AFC North.