Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Point Spread – Pick

Cleveland Browns (0-15 SU, 3-12 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3 SU, 7-8 ATS)
Week 17 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: CLE +13/PIT -13
Over/Under Total: 39.5

The Cleveland Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 17 AFC North divisional action from Heinz Field on Sunday. Pittsburgh was dominant on Saturday with a 34-6 road-beating against the Houston Texans. They look for win number 13 this week against the winless Browns. On Sunday, the winless Browns dropped another one in a 20-3 loss to the Bears. This is their last chance to win a game this season, but it won’t be easy. A whole lot has changed since week one, especially with the Steelers, who narrowly beat the Browns, 21-18, in Cleveland to open the season.

Pittsburgh is guaranteed of a first-round bye in the playoffs. Still, they could get homefield throughout the playoffs with a win over the Browns this week and a Patriots loss on Sunday. And considering how tough the Pats are, getting that game at home if they get to the conference titlegame would be huge. Some things to watch out for and that could make the spread an issue is a scenario where they see the Patriots crushing the Jets this weekend, as they take their foot off the gas and maybe rest some of their heavy-hitters as it becomes clear there is nothing to gain. But with homefield still in the cards and knowing they get a week off after this, there is still work to do. And we’ve also noticed how hard it has become for Cleveland to compete against anyone, in the event that the Steelers called off the dogs.

Pittsburgh certainly looked good against Houston last Saturday, with their offense in fine form, even without Antonio Brown. That would be the one concern I would have if backing the Steelers this week. Ben Roethlisberger is a looming injury concern and they probably won’t push the envelope with him or expedite Brown’s return. Le’Veon Bell may also get a light workload. With Brown out, it’s more looks for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has been a massive addition as a rookie receiver and Martavis Bryant, who has come out of the doghouse and made a recent impact. TE Vance McDonald has gotten more-involved and just in time for the postseason, we see other ball-catchers other than Brown making a dent.

It didn’t really manifest against a pedestrian Houston offense, but looking ahead, the Pittsburgh defense is a sticking point. For most of the season, they have been huge and even picked up the slack and kept the Steelers winning when the offense was off-key. Some injuries starting occurring and the loss of Shazier was massive. Getting CB Joe Haden back has made a palpable difference in the secondary. Hopefully, they won’t end up being a unit on the decline as the playoffs hit. But they certainly haven’t played their best football in the month of December.


The Browns are left to search for their first win to avoid a 0-16 season. Last season, they only won one game. And with them losing, they’ve almost been as bad from a wagering standpoint. It’s almost amazing how little value they get week-to-week, as if those who set the odds have somehow not gotten up-to-speed on how truly bad the Browns are. They’ve covered the spread 7 times in their last 41 games, which is an astoundingly-bad run. But who knows, maybe they get fired up to win a game, Pittsburgh pulls a bunch of starters with the Patriots looking like they’re going to win, and they catch a few breaks. Betting on the Browns for any reason, however, has shown to be a bad move the last few years.

With 9 touchdowns and 21 picks and a bunch of fumbles and other miscues, it’s been a rough rookie season for QB DeShone Kizer. It wouldn’t have been easy stepping into this situation for any 21-year old, but it’s still been a rough road for the rookie and this offense. Josh Gordon was supposed to offer a glimpse of hope, but since putting up 85 yards against the Chargers in week 13, his numbers have gone down each week. They have some good players like running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, who is actually their leading receiver. There is only so much you can say positive about a group that scores less than 14 points a game and is the last-ranked offense in the NFL. And a vaunted line that got a lot of hype hasn’t quite delivered this season.

Only two teams have given up more points than the Browns this season, but there actually seems to be more hope on defense. At least recent high draft picks on this side of the ball appear to be paying off with DT Danny Shelton, DE Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and others. The line looks to be a rising group and the secondary should get better over time. They have nice talent at linebacker with Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert. But the off-the-mark Pittsburgh offense they faced in week one is a far cry from the group they will see on the field on Sunday.

This is one of the tougher games to forecast on the schedule from an ATS standpoint. Granted, even a Pittsburgh team that lets off the gas from a personnel standpoint can still beat the Browns by two or more touchdowns. This same Browns team still found a way to lose by 17 last week to a Bears team that has only a fraction of the Steelers’ explosive-potential. It might seem simplistic to think this, but the Browns haven’t been getting enough points all season and it’s hard to bet them here. I see the Steelers winning handily.

Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers minus 13 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you’ll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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