Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3 9-6 ATS) at Cleveland Browns (10-5 6-9 ATS)
In the season finale the Browns, who are in need of a win, host the Steelers, who are already in the playoffs. The Browns are a big 9.5-point favorite in this game with the total sitting at 42.
The reason the Browns are such big favorites is that Pittsburgh is locked into the second or third seed in the playoffs and because of that Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday that Ben Roethlisberger will not play. That announcement led to the public baking the Browns, as they opened as a 4-point favorite and as of Wednesday are a 10-point favorite.
Steelers Snapped 3 Game Skid
The Steelers snapped their three-game losing streak with an impressive 28-24 comeback win over the Colts in their last game.
With Big Ben on the sidelines, Mason Rudolph will get the start for Pittsburgh.
While there are several tie scenarios the Browns will make the playoffs if they win this game, the Colts lose, or if the Titans lose and the Dolphins win.
In their last game, the Browns lost to the New York Jets 23-16 where Baker Mayfield said he failed the team. Cleveland has lost two of their last three games and earlier this season in Pittsburgh they were crushed by the Steelers losing 38-7.
The home team has covered the spread in the last five games between these AFC North rivals.
Mason Rodolph will get the start in this game and this season he has only passed for nine yards on four attempts. Last season he played in 10 games passing for 1,765 yards with 11 TD and nine INT.
The Steelers need Rudolph to carry the load on offense since the run game has struggled as of late. In the win over the Colts last week the team only rushed for a grand total of 20 yards. James Conner leads the team in rushing yards and after missing a few games due to injury he has only rushed for 38 yards on 15 carries in the last two games.
JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson combined for 171 receiving yards and each had a TD in the win over the Colts. In that game, the Steelers outscored the Colts 21-3 in the second half and Big Ben passed for 342 yards with three TD and no INT.
Get Back to the Run
Cleveland’s strength on offense this season has been the run game but in the loss to the Jets, they only rushed for 45 yards. Nick Chubb only rushed for 25 yards in the loss and in the last two games he has rushed for 78 yards while in the previous two games rushed for 162 yards.
Mayfield passed for 285 yards against the Jets and was not picked off but did not have a TD and fumbled three times losing two of them. He has to avoid the turnover and in the earlier season loss to the Steelers, he was picked off twice.
In the loss to the Steelers, this season not only did the Browns turn the ball over twice but they gave up two special team TD.
The Steelers’ defense has not looked that good in the last few games, but they did hold Indy to only three points in the second half in the last game.
The Steelers had failed to cover in four straight games before doing so in the win over the Colts. The Browns are only 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games.
Yeah, Big Ben is not playing but giving 10 points to the Steelers? I think the Browns will get the win in this game but it will not be an easy one. Pittsburgh will have a much better ground game and their defense will step up. Cleveland will win and make the playoffs but Pittsburgh will cover the double-digit spread.
PICK: Steelers +9.5