Thursday Night Football best bets: Steelers at Browns

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

September 22, 2022 01:08 PM
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Week 3 of the 2022 NFL season kicks off with an AFC North matchup of 1-1 teams.

Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for our best bets for the rest of Week 3 as we get closer to kickoff.

Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-4, 38)

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: Even though we all know the running game is the path to success for the Browns, Kevin Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt are making it a point to achieve offensive balance to keep the defense honest. The Browns had 39 rushing attempts and 34 passing attempts in Week 1 and 37 rushes to 27 passes in Week 2 (when Brissett had six of those rushing attempts himself).

Amari Cooper was the only guy who consistently got open against the Jets. He had 10 of the team’s 27 targets and nine receptions for 101 yards. That came on the heels of a disappointing three-catch effort for 17 yards in Week 1, but the routes were crisper and Brissett looked more comfortable in Week 2. The Browns adjusted their playbook and found ways to get Cooper open.

They’ll need to do more of the same this week to keep the Pittsburgh defense from flooding the box on every play. Not all of the personnel is the same for these two teams, but the Steelers held the Browns under 100 rushing yards in both meetings last season. Brissett will have to throw a bit and Cooper seems to be the receiver he has developed the most chemistry with. Cooper’s 4.5 receptions prop at DraftKings shows plus money to the Over.

The Browns lead the NFL with 76 carries through two weeks, but Brissett has also been part of 76 plays per the analytics site rbsdm.com. If Stefanski wants balance, Cooper is the most likely benefactor.

Pick: Amari Cooper Over 4.5 Receptions (+ 110)

Danny Burke: The Browns should be ashamed of how last week’s game versus the Jets concluded. It’s one thing to blow a lead like that, but it’s another to do it against Joe Flacco at this point in his career.  Nevertheless, the Browns get a quick turnaround to try to change the mojo and are the rightful favorites despite the disappointment of last week. 

The Steelers barely got by a Bengals team that committed five turnovers and missed two potential game-winning kicks in Week 1. Then in Week 2 against the Patriots, we got to see how boring a Mitch Trubisky-led offense is when his defense doesn’t gift him with various turnovers. 

As bad as the Browns defense has been, they’ll be ready to play right out of the gate. They’ll be ticked off and fired up after what happened Sunday, so I’m expecting a slow start out of this Steelers offense. The forecast calls for strong winds in Cleveland — possibly over 20 mph — and Trubisky has enough trouble throwing accurately in perfect conditions. 

Offensively, Cleveland will just keep doing what it does best: running the ball with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. A windy game is almost the perfect setup for the Browns, especially in the first half when they can script a bunch of running plays. Pittsburgh’s defense is allowing 4.0 yards per carry and 128.5 rushing yards per game.

I am taking Cleveland on the first-half moneyline at -170. I realize it’s a steep price, so if you want to lay -2.5, I am not opposed to that. However, I am laying the steep chalk because I want some added security in the event of a tie — or in the event of a weird play in the kicking game on what could be a very windy night. 

Play: Browns 1H ML (-170)

Femi Abebefe: Betting a side in a “Thursday Night Football” game can be tricky as we get deeper into the season, but I really like a side in this one. I’m a little higher than the consensus on Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett, but with that said, this is just too many points for him to be laying in a division game.

Let’s remember something: The Browns closed as 1.5-point underdogs against the Panthers in Week 1. The same Panthers who weren’t highly thought of heading into the season. The betting market is telling us that Cleveland with Brissett is a below-average football team.

Now the rebuttal would be that the Steelers are also thought of as a below-average football team, and I would agree with that argument. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t keep this close.

One of the main reasons why the market is sour on Pittsburgh is because of starting quarterback (for now) Mitchell Trubisky. The six-year veteran is a bottom-third starter, but that’s heavily baked into the number. In a matchup of two below-average QBs, I’ll take the guy getting more than a field goal in an extremely low-totaled game (38!).

Pick: Steelers + 4.5 (widely available)

Dave Tuley: The Thursday nighter gives us a battle between co-leaders in the AFC North as the Steelers and Browns are 1-1 and also tied with the Ravens atop the division (with the Bengals a game behind at 0-2) after all four teams lost in Week 2. 

The Browns would have beaten the Jets if Kareem Hunt or Nick Chubb had stayed in bounds, but instead they allowed the Jets to rally for a 31-30 upset. The Steelers came up short versus the Patriots, but I don’t see why the Browns should be favored by more than a field goal here. The advance line last week was Browns -3 but it's now -4.5 at most books (and was at 5 at some spots, including DraftKings, on Tuesday before dipping back down). 

Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers offense didn’t look as good as they did in the Week 1 win at the Bengals, but they should benefit from facing a Browns defense that has allowed an average of 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Steelers also have the edge on defense and should be able to contain the Jacoby Brissett-led Browns offense.  

Pick: Steelers + 4.5 (widely available)

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