Cleveland Browns (5-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
Aside from this being a divisional matchup, this is a completely meaningless game for these two teams. Both are out of the playoffs. I have a rule against making significant plays on completely meaningless games. If the teams might not care about a game, I shouldn’t either. There’s just no way to predict what kind of effort either side is going to give.
The Browns do have a powerful trend on their side as they are road dogs off a road loss. Teams are 86-51 ATS in this spot since 2008. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh could be completely flat after getting eliminated from the playoffs. The Browns also have a lack of losses by more than 10 points over the past 3 years. As bad as they’ve been, they tend to play teams close. They have just 8 of those losses in the last 3 seasons, including three this year. That’s important because this is a 10 point line. The Steelers, meanwhile, are 4-10 ATS as double digit favorites in the last 4 seasons.
However, I just can’t take the Browns and 3rd stringer Thaddeus Lewis in his first NFL start. He was recently activated off the practice squad. Normally betting on 3rd stringers is a very bad idea, but Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is 17-2 SU against rookie quarterbacks. Lewis isn’t technically a rookie, but he’s never thrown a pass in a regular season game. He’ll also be without Trent Richardson.
I can see this game starting out close, maybe 3-3 early, while I’m sitting there thinking “I should have blindly followed the road dog off a road loss trend,” but then it becomes a blowout in the 2nd half as Lewis throws at least one pick six to a Pittsburgh defender before it eventually ends with Pittsburgh up by at least two touchdowns. I don’t like either side, but I’d take the Steelers if I had to.
Public lean: ?
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Cleveland Browns 9
Pick against spread: Pittsburgh -10 (-110) 1 unit