Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Spread
For the last matchup between these divisional rivals this season it is Pittsburgh’s turn to host Cleveland. The last time these teams played was November 25th with Pittsburgh listed as 1-point favorites. With kickoff scheduled for 1pm Sunday at Heinz Field, Oddsmakers have yet to list a favorite or a total set of points in this game.
Why Cleveland Covers:
If the Browns hadn’t stumbled out of the gate this season they might have had a shot at the playoffs. They lost 5 games this year by 7 points or less and had their first win streak of 3 games in over 2 years. If they can get a win on Sunday it will be the first time since 2007 they finish the season with over 5 wins.
Despite the fact this game is being played in Pittsburgh, it could actually benefit the Browns. The Steelers have a record 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games played on grass. While Cleveland is 9-4 ATS in their last 13 played on grass.
The Browns are trying to sweep the season series against the Steelers for the first time since 1988. In their first meeting this year they forced 5 fumbles while intercepting Charlie Batch 4 times. This time around Roethlisberger will be back under center but it could be more of the same. Big Ben has lost the last two games throwing critical interceptions against both the Cowboys (overtime) and Bengals (late 4th quarter) that resulted in game losing field goals. He should tread careful in this game; but Cleveland will be whispering “third times a charm”. They are 9th in the league with 17 interceptions this year with 14 coming while playing on grass.
Cleveland enters this game with a 7-1 ATS record in their last 8 games following an ATS loss. While showing a 7-3 ATS record in the last 10 meetings with Pittsburgh. To make matters worst the Steelers are going to be without defensive beast Ike Taylor, and Health Miller one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets. Don’t be shocked if Cleveland wins on Sunday and improves to 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games facing Pittsburgh.
Why Pittsburgh Covers:
Pittsburgh has a lot riding on this game despite the fact the will miss out on the playoffs. If they lose this game it will be the first time since 2003 they finish with a losing record, and first time in Ben Roethlisberger’s career. But a 5-0 record with revenge off back-to-back SUATS losses, and a 22-4 record against Cleveland since 2000; I don’t expect that to happen.
Regardless of Pittsburgh’s 7-8 record this season they still have one of the best defenses in the league. They are 1st overall limiting opponents to 185 yards passing per game, and 2nd overall allowing only 87.5 rushing yards. Once again they are holding offenses in check with the focus on Cleveland this weekend. But don’t expect this task to be too difficult. The Browns are looking to be without their two biggest playmakers on offense. Last week Brandon Weeden (Shoulder) and Trent Richardson (Ankle) left versus Denver. Without these guys in the lineup it’s looking like the Steelers will easily improve on their 16-2 record in their last 18 games played in Cleveland.
Pittsburgh should finish the 2012 season victorious with an average defensive performance. Cleveland is 24th in the league averaging only 19.5 points per game. While in games this season that the Steelers hold teams to fewer than 20, they are 5-2 overall.
Given the fact Cleveland is 1-6 while playing on the road this season. It won’t take a lights out performance for the Steelers to finish with at least a .500 record for the 9th consecutive season.