The Steelers got back on track in Week 9, outlasting the Oakland Raiders 38-35. Pittsburgh will look to get a second straight win this Sunday, and improve its record to 6-4 heading into a much-needed bye week.
The Browns, meanwhile, are struggling through another losing season, something the franchise and its fan have grown accustomed to in recent years. Cleveland hasn't finished with a winning record since 2007. Head coach Mike Pettine's squad was blown out 31-10 at Cincinnati in Week 9, and are currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
Week 9 Recap
The Steelers were five-point favorites over the Raiders in Week 9. Pittsburgh won the game 38-35, but failed to cover the spread despite having several opportunities to do so in the final moments. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a sprained left foot in the fourth quarter and was carted off the field. He's listed as questionable on the Steelers injury report, and his status remains uncertain heading into Sunday's matchup with the Browns.
Winning bets: Steelers to win -205
Losing bets: Steelers to cover -110, under 48.0 total points, longest touchdown over 45.5 yards -115, Martavis Bryant to score two or more touchdowns +550, Steelers win by 14-17 points +850
Roethlisberger was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday, but it's unlikely he'll be active against the Browns. All signs are pointing to backup quarterback Landry Jones making his second career start at Heinz Field on Sunday.
Browns starting quarterback Josh McCown has also been dealing with injuries over the last couple of weeks. He suffered bruised ribs against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8. He practiced in a limited fashion throughout the week, but his status is also unclear for Sunday. If McCown is unable to go, the Browns will turn to backup Johnny Manziel, who's started in several games this season.
Steelers offense: No. 17 (22.9 PPG) vs. Browns defense: No. 26 (27.4 PPG)
Steelers defense: No. 8 (20.2 PPG) vs. Browns offense: No. 29 (19.7 PPG)
Landry Jones: 28/47 (59.6%) 456 yards (9.7 AVG) 3 TD, 2 INT
Johnny Manziel: 43/83 (51.8%) 561 yards (6.8 AVG) 4 TD, 1 INT
My season record straight up: 5-3
Steelers -240 ($10.00 wins $4.17)
Browns +200 ($10.00 wins $20.00)
This is a very important game for the Steelers, who are trying to keep pace with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card race. If the season ended today, Pittsburgh would be on the outside looking in at No. 7. A win against the Browns on Sunday would move the Steelers into the No. 5 spot in the AFC, and put the team in a nice spot heading into the bye in Week 11. At 2-7, the Browns are merely playing for pride at this point.
Heinz Field has been a house of horrors for Cleveland. The Browns are an abysmal 0-11 in their last 11 games in Pittsburgh.
ESPN and multiple sources are reporting that Manziel is going to start at quarterback for the Browns. With history on its side, I like a desperate Steelers team to get the job done at home against the inexperienced quarterback.
The play: Steelers -240
My season record against the spread: 4-2-2
Steelers -6 (-105) ($10.00 wins $9.52)
Browns +6 (-115) ($10.00 wins $8.70)
After a hot start to the season, the Steelers are 2-3-1 against the spread in their last six games. The Browns have also struggled of late, going 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games.
The key to success for the Steelers offense in this game will be to establish the run with DeAngelo Williams, who rushed for a season-high 170 yards last week. When looking at the statistics, it appears to be a favorable matchup for the Steelers. Cleveland's defense ranks No. 29 against the run, allowing opponents 147.2 yards per game. Pittsburgh's rushing attack ranks No. 5, and averages 133.4 yards per game.
I expect the Steelers defense, which ranks No. 8 in sacks (22.0), to get after Manziel, and force a few turnovers.
The play: Steelers -6
Here's what Scott Cooley at BookMaker Sportsbook thinks about the Browns-Steelers matchup, and the other two Week 10 AFC North games:
Browns at Steelers
If Roethlisberger was healthy, we would've opened this game's spread -11. With Landry Jones under center, we adjusted down based on Big Ben's value and opened the spread at -4.5. The number was bet up to -5 on Monday and we haven't moved off since.
On a neutral field, this spread would be closer to a pick ‘em. But because of the sizable Heinz Filed home-field advantage and the Pittsburgh namesake, we had to make the Steelers a favorite higher than the key number of -3.
The Browns certainly hold the edge at quarterback with McCown expected to return. We just don't have a lot of faith in Landry Jones. He's only been marginally successful because of the system, but you can't mask mistakes with scheme. I expect we'll see underdog money come in on Cleveland as the weekend wears on. Look for this spread to close between 3-4 points.
Other AFC North Games
41.5 (-110) ($10.00 wins $9.09)
It looks like Jones and Manziel are going to be starting at quarterback for their respective teams, and if that's indeed the case, this should be a fairly low-scoring game. Both offenses, especially the Browns, should have trouble moving the ball. If you're looking for a trend, the total has gone under in six of Pittsburgh's last seven games. I like the under in an ugly AFC North slugfest.
The play: under 41.5
Steelers win by 7 to 10 points +550 ($10.00 wins $55.00)
Player to score first Steelers touchdown: DeAngelo Williams +225 ($10.00 wins $22.50)
The Long Shot
First scoring play Steelers TD run +750 ($10.00 wins $75.00)
Steelers 24, Browns 13