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Steelers still 2-point underdogs in Week 11 vs. Deshaun Watson-less Browns

Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns in action against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 18, 2023 at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns announced that starting quarterback Deshaun Watson would be out for the remainder of the 2023 season Wednesday morning. With the Browns and Steelers set to face off in a close race for the AFC North in Week 11, the news could force a huge swing in the division standings.

Incredibly, though, the news hasn’t had much an impact on the odds for Steelers-Browns in Week 1. The Browns remain 2-point favorites over the Steelers despite the loss of their quarterback, with moneyline odds at -130 and the Steelers’ at +110 as betting lines reopened after the news on DraftKings Sportsbook. When odds opened for the week, the Browns were 3.5-point favorites, meaning the Watson news has shifted the line just 1.5 points.

The two-point advantage can be attributed to the fact that it’s a home game for the Browns, but still, it’s a damning indictment of the confidence oddsmakers have in the Steelers’ offense to match up with Cleveland’s defense in a meaningful way. The line will continue to shift, of course, depending on how the public bets in response to the news.

The point total for the game has seen the biggest shift since the news broke, plummeting from 38.5 points before the news down to 34.5.

The Steelers won the first of their two games in Pittsburgh 26-22 back in Week 2, in which LB Alex Highsmith had a 30-yard pick six against Deshaun Watson on the first pass attempt of the game. With some struggles back and forth on each team’s respective offenses, T.J. Watt sealed the deal on the win with a 16-yard fumble return touchdown to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

With Watson out, it’s likely that veteran P.J. Walker gets the start, who the team is 2-1 with this season despite completing passes at a sub-50% clip, averaging 206 passing yards per game, and totaling 1 TD and 5 interceptions over his three games. It’s a testament to the strength of the defense and the viability of the run game despite the loss of running back Nick Chubb to a season-ending knee injury.