Pittsburgh Steelers +3 @ Cleveland Browns: 41.5
Thursday night is here again and to kick off week 11… yeah, 11 already. It’s an AFC North clash between my two favourite teams as the Steelers travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns.
Generic TNF Stats for the season so far;
- Favorites-Dogs (SU) 5-4
- Favorites-Dogs (ATS) 2-7
- Home-Away (SU) 6-3
- Home-Away (ATS) 3-6
- Totals (Over-Under) 5-4
So, if it means anything at all (I’m inclined to think not a whole not) then Favourites just about lead straight up which dogs are smashing it against the spread. Home teams have won twice as many as away, although that flips against the spread, and totals are pretty even at 5-4.
Usual theory is that home teams get the better of these short week games as there’s less time to prepare and they don’t have to travel.
The Steelers are 5-3-1 ATS, covering 5 of their last 7 games and winning 4 in a row. Totals are 3-6 for them. 2-5 since the remarkable Mason Rudolph took over at QB.
Now, anyone who has read my blog over the last couple of years will know that I find it a little tough to speak positively of this wonderful, up-standing, honest, clean playing, historic franchise. So, given that the team I support is probably going to be the worst in the league this season, I’ll cheer myself up a little by starting on the offense.
Their offense which is frankly woeful since Rudolph started under center for them (They still put up 27 on the Bengals, but that’s actually a decent results for Cinci). Mason Rudolph is not a starting QB in this league, but credit where it’s due to the coaching, they know this and have worked a plan to enable them to do just enough on offense and win games. He did take a smack to the face which knocked him out cold, so it’s fair enough that he might be a little tentative in the pocket, but the first half against the Dolphins in their last prime-time game was some of the worst QB play I’ve seen this year. And I’m a Bengals fan. He averages 65% completions at an average of 6.6. His most common depth of target is about a yard, although his average aDot if 7.5
So yeah, I’m not a fan of Rudolph and he’s destroyed Juju’s first season as the main man in Pittsburgh, just 1 game above 100 yards and 3 TDs on the season isn’t the numbers most expected from him. The main guy for Rudolph last week was James Washington. Many had expected there’d be a connection between the two of them as they used to shower together in college so had a prior professional relationship there and that may have finally come true as he caught 6 of 7 for 90 yards and a TD against the Rams. Outside of the two main guys, Diontae Johnson seems to make a habit of either doing fuck all or getting randomly wide open about 20 yards down the field so he’s had a few long TD catches this season, longs of 30,39,43 and 45 for him this year.
James Connor returns for the Steelers having been a full participant at practise all week, he’s missed a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury but is by far the best back they’ve got on the roster. The game he picked up the injury was his best of the season with 145 and a TD on the ground against the Dolphins and he comes back into a decent matchup with the Browns 22nd against the run. Jaylon Samuel should have a role still mainly as the pass catching back, a role which gets a lot of work with Rudolph playing.
BUT the reason they’ve been winning games this year isn’t the offense. Their defense has been brilliant since they traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick. He has score more TDs this season than Odell Beckham, and currently has 4 interceptions, 2 TDs and a forced fumble, when he’s on the field the Steelers allow a passing rating of around 20 to opposing QBs.
It’s safe to say they picked up a great player to add to the many 1st round picks they’ve got on their defense. – I was critical of them giving away their first round pick and a lot of Steelers fans thought it meant they had the QB of the future to replace Big Ben when he eventually fucks off. They definitely don’t yet, but they wouldn’t have picked up a better CB in the first round next year than Minkah so it’s been worth it on that front.
Even as a Steelers detractor it’s hard to ignore how great the Steelers D has been this year and DVOA ranks them at 3 behind the Patriots and 49ers with a turnover differential of +13, 14 INTs and 12 fumble recoveries.
Oh Cleveland. How you have amused me this year. The off-season darlings in the media and the betting world have flopped hugely so far and it’s been wonderful. Wonderful to see Baker looking for bedraggled in press conferences, to see him snapping back at reporters (who in fairness ask fucking ridiculous questions) and to see them losing games they really should be winning.
The Browns are 2-6-1 ATS this season with totals sitting at 4-5 for them.
They have one of the most talented rosters in the league with high picks and star players on both sides of the roster. Starting with the #1 pick from last year at QB. Baker Mayfield came into the team with a cock-sure arrogance which fans loved and had the results to back it up in his first season. This year however, he’s been one of the easiest people for me to want to fail, and he’s done a pretty good job of that so far. He may slowly be turning his season around though, after throwing at least one interception in the first 7 games of the season he’s managed to go a whole two games without one and posted his best QBR of the season last week in their win against the Bills with his first multi-score game of the season, 2 for 238.
The main WR for them this season hasn’t been Odell Beckham who they acquired over the summer, the link between him and Baker hasn’t really formed yet despite them forcing targets to him, in fact 7 of Bakers 12 incompletions last week were aimed at Beckham, admittedly at least 2 were DPIs in the endzone. He’s on target for over 1,000 yards on the season but it’s not what we expected from this partnership. The leading receiver for them this season has been Odells bestest buddy in the whole wide world, Jarvis Landry who now gets favourable coverage and is making the most of it especially in recent weeks where he’s scored in the last two and had double-digit targets in the last 3 games. Rashard Higgins is a favourite of Baker as well and managed to get a TD from his 1 and only target.
They were strengthened at RB last week with the return of Kareem Hunt from suspension. He didn’t have a major role on the ground but was used a lot through the air with 7 for 44 from 9 targets and that’s the role a lot expected him to have so it will be interesting to see how that plays out going forward. Nick Chubb has been brilliant this season though so he should still keep the bulk of the carries, he has had exactly 20 carries in each of the last 4 weeks, has gone over 100 in 3 of those 4; 6 TDs on the season (although has only scored in 3 games) and may top 1,000 rushing yards in tonights game (he needs 83 more).
They have a decent defense as well led by #1 pick a couple of years back Myles Garrett who has 10 sacks and 2 forced fumbles so far this season, alongside Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi they’ve got a good defensive front and the return of Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams in the secondary strengthened that area last week too.
If the Browns lose, their season is over and the Steelers would take a big step towards meaningful January football. The Steelers lose and the Browns put legitimate pressure on teams seeking that final playoff spot in the AFC. It is worth noting the Browns have faced one of the tougher schedules and it eases up a lot in the second half of the season.
It’s a really tough game to call, I think it will be a tight, low scoring affair, I like the sacks line given the amount of talent on show from both pass rushes, and I think I’ve got to lean to the Steelers winning, and I definitely like them getting the points.
- Total sacks o5.5 – 1.98 (888bet)
- Kareem Hunt o3.5 receptions – 2.25 (365)
As always Skybet have their RaB offer on the Thursday night game, Bet £10, get a free £5 to spend on NFL.
I think I’ve got to go with the first one I checked really given how I think the game will go, and given how he’s played since he joined the team I’ll sprinkle a little on Minkah too;
- Pittsburgh +3 & B.Mayfield 1+ Int, Steelers 3+ Sacks @ 3.10
- Minkah Fitzpatrick to score a Touchdown @ 17.00
Then chuck my free fiver on some big odds stuff.
Right, if you haven’t already then now is a great time to join Draftkings – They’ve got an offer this week. If you open a new account deposit just $5 then you’ll receive $10 extra credit for free! – All season up to this point it’s been $10 needed when opening, so obviously this is a great offer! and once you’ve signed up you can join our weekly league and compete for cash prizes. Click the banner below to join.
Join this weeks competition here -> TDTips Weekly $5 comp
Cheers for reading, and hopefully we’ll wake up to some cash!