The AFC North takes center stage Thursday night as the Cleveland Browns travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Double-digit underdogs are 15-11-2 (57.7%) against the spread in 2011.”
We saw it happen last Sunday when the Colts kept it close at New England and we also got a glimpse of this trend in action back on November 14 when the 14-point underdog Buccaneers went to Lambeau Field and lost 35-26 to the Packers.
Can the Browns keep it close tonight or will the Steelers lay the wood to their AFC North rivals? Let’s break it down…
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CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-8, 1-4 road) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-3, 5-1 home)
Time: 8:20pm ET (NFL Network)
Opening line: Pittsburgh -13.5/40
Current line: Pittsburgh -14/40
Current betting trends: 76% backing the Steelers, 64% backing the OVER.
Cleveland Browns: 3-7-2 against the spread, UNDER is 7-5
Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-6 against the spread, OVER is 6-6
1. The Browns are 1-8 ATS in their last nine games as an underdog.
2. The Browns are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games at Pittsburgh.
3. The Steelers are 8-2 ATS in their last ten games vs. AFC North opponents.
4. The favorite is 9-4-1 ATS in the last 14 meetings between these two teams.
5. The OVER is 8-3-1 in the last 12 meetings between these two teams.
6. The OVER is 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings between these two teams in Pittsburgh.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: OUT: LB Quinton Spears (hamstring), S T.J. Ward (foot), QUESTIONABLE: S Mike Adams (shoulder), RB Peyton Hillis (hip), T Tony Pashos (ankle), PROBABLE: LB Chris Gocong (hip), RB Montario Hardesty (calf), QB Colt McCoy (knee), DE Jayme Mitchell (ankle)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: OUT: WR Arnaz Battle (hamstring), LB Chris Carter (hamstring), RB Jonathan Dwyer (foot), T Chris Hoke (neck), WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot), DOUBTFUL: LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), PROBABLE: S Ryan Clark (shoulder), WR Jerricho Cotchery (knee), LB James Farrior (thumb), LB Larry Foote (hamstring), G Ramon Foster (ankle), LB James Harrison (back), RB Rashard Mendenhall (back), TE Heath Miller (ankle), RB Mewelde Moore (hamstring), S Ryan Mundy (neck), S Troy Polamalu (knee), C Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), RB Isaac Redman (ankle), QB Ben Roethlisberger (right thumb), LB Stevenson Sylvester (knee)
Analysis: Analysis: The Browns are just 3-7-2 against the spread this season, but have found a way to cover the number in two of their last three matchups. They’ll have to ride that momentum Thursday night in Pittsburgh against a Steelers team that has beaten them 19 times in their last 22 meetings.
ICONColt McCoy has to step his game up if the Browns want a shot at upsetting the Steelers on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh has brought home victories in seven of their last eight games and is 4-2 against the line at home in 2011. But be advised that for as solid as this team has looked this year, the Black and Yellow is a shocking 1-6 ATS in their last seven games following an against the spread win.
Not only that, but since 2009, the Steelers are 3-7 ATS as a favorite of 10.5 or more points.
If the Browns plan to make this a football game, they’ll have to figure out a way to score some points—something they haven’t been able to do much of in their last five trips to Heinz Field (11.8 pts/gm). Cleveland ranks 30th in the NFL in total offense (290.7 yds/gm) and 28th in scoring (14.6 pts/gm), so if there was ever a time for second-year quarterback Colt McCoy to break out and show us what he’s made of, tonight’s the night.
As for the total, 76% of the action for this game is coming in on the UNDER (40), but take note that the OVER is 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings between these two teams in Pittsburgh.
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