Browns Look For Rare Win Over Steelers
Kickoff at FirstEnergy Stadium is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.
The matchup marks the second and final game (postseason permitting) between the two sides this season, bringing a quick conclusion to this year’s installment of what is now a 64-year-old rivalry.
The Story So Far
Pittsburgh (3-2, 2-1 road) has flip-flopped wins and losses through the first five weeks of the season, and will be looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Steelers scored a win over the Browns in Week 1, but squandered a 27-3 halftime lead before winning on a 41-yard field goal as time expired.
A loss within the division to the Baltimore Ravens followed before the Steelers dominated the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football in Week 3. A surprise defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers followed, before a 17-9 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars brought the Steelers to 3-2 last weekend.
The latter result was somewhat disconcerting for Mike Tomlin’s side. While the defense was up to the usual standard you’d expect of a Steelers side, the offense spluttered against a Jaguars defense that had allowed 38 points per game up until that point.
Cleveland (2-2, 1-1 home) has begun the season with a .500 record but could easily have been undefeated through four games. On the other hand, the Browns could easily have been winless too.
Cleveland earned victories over the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans by a combined three points, and recorded losses to the Steelers and Ravens by a combined five points. Right now, the Browns seem to guarantee a close game, which has seeped through to the spread (more on that later).
The Browns will look to take advantage of a running game that has been uncharacteristically good this season, and on that tore into the Steelers for 191 yards in Week 1. The Steelers have since tightened things up and are in the top third of the league in rush defense, which should make for an interesting battle.
The AFC North Landscape
With the Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) still expected to take the AFC North crown, the Steelers will look to divide some opinions on that matter. Already with a 1-1 record within the division, a win over the Browns would be a good place to start.
Cleveland was always expected to be an “also ran” this season, and with a 0-2 start within the AFC North, things appear to be going to form right now.
The Browns could alter the dynamic of the division with a win on Sunday though, potentially moving ahead of both the Steelers. Perhaps more significantly, the Browns could move to within one win of tying last year’s four-win season, and with Jacksonville on tap next weekend, could be in for some early celebrations.
Since the two teams first met in 1950, Pittsburgh leads the all-time head-to-head series 68-57, but is just 25-36 on the road. Those figures are heavily skewed thanks to the Browns’ dominance through the fifties and sixties, when the team posted a 32-9 record.
Since 1999’s reboot, the Browns are just 5-27 against the Steelers, including a 3-12 record in Cleveland.
Pittsburgh has won four straight in the series, eight of the last nine, and 26 of the last 29.
Cleveland’s last win in the series came on Nov. 25, 2012, a 20-14 victory in the Forest City.
The Steelers defeated the Browns 30-27 when the two sides met in Week 1, relying on a Shaun Suisham field-goal as time expired to leave with the win. The closeness of that game combined with Cleveland’s dramatic comeback a week ago and Pittsburgh’s less than endearing victory over the Jaguars has plenty believing we may be in for a rare Browns’ victory in this one.
Pittsburgh defensive back Ike Taylor (arm) is out indefinitely while linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) and safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) are both listed as questionable.
Cleveland’s defensive lineman Phil Taylor (foot) is out indefinitely while defensive end Paul Kruger (back) is amongst those players listed as questionable.
Below you’ll find Betting Sports’ breakdown of odds and betting trends.
Moneyline: Cleveland (-130) opened as a very narrow favorite over Pittsburgh (+130) and has seen that advantage all but slip away. At the time of writing, online sportsbook TopBet had the two sides even.
With such an abysmal record in the head-to-head series since 1999, bettors will find it hard to back the Browns, but given recent performances this may be the club’s best shot at getting a victory over their long-time rivals.
Spread: The spread opened at 2 in favor of the Browns and has since fell to as low as 1.
Neither Cleveland (2-1-1 ATS) nor Pittsburgh (2-3-0 ATS) has been consistent against the spread through the early part of the season and, surprisingly given the Steelers’ dominance straight up, history doesn’t offer a clear indication of how this one will play out.
The two sides are both 5-5-0 ATS in the last 10 head-to-head meetings. Pittsburgh has covered in three of the last four though, but the Steelers are just 2-4-0 ATS in their last six visits to the Forest City.
This one really is a pick’em when it comes to the spread. Pittsburgh covered in the Week 1 encounter between the sides.
Total: The total opened at 46.5 and has climbed slightly to 47.
Both Cleveland (4-0-0 O/U) and Pittsburgh (3-2-0 O/U) have favored the over this season. The total went over in Week 1’s clash.
However, the under has paid out in five of the last seven head-to-head meetings, and four of the last six played between the sides at FirstEnergy Stadium, or Cleveland Browns Stadium as it was known.
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