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Browns-Steelers Thursday night betting primer

Cleveland heads to Pittsburgh as a 14-point underdog. Joe Fortenbaugh

December 08, 2011
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The AFC North takes center stage Thursday night as the Cleveland Browns travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

76% of the action is currently coming in on the Steelers (-14), but keep in mind this little nugget from our friend Dave Tuley of View From Vegas.com:

“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…

CLICK HERE to check out all of the Week 14 lines.

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

KEY TRENDS

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.

KEY INJURIES

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.

Colt McCoyICONColt 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.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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