The Browns and Steelers collide in week 10 NFL betting amidst quarterback question marks on both sides of the coin. So how do NFL bettors approach their NFL picks for this matchup?
Cleveland Browns (2-7, 1-4 Away)
Josh McCown or Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel? Who’s going to get the start on Sunday? That’s the overriding question that hangs over this game for the weekend from a Cleveland perspective.
It looks like Browns’ faithful might have to wait patiently until Sunday to find out which of the pair will lead the Cleveland Browns onto the luscious lawns of Heinz Field. That sort of wreaks havoc with making a sound NFL pick.
By the stats, the Browns are 2-7 SU on the season, which includes a 4-5 ATS mark and a 7.8-point losing margin on average. Where the Browns come up tops is in O/U betting with a league-leading 7-2 OVER record. On the road, the Browns are 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS with a 1.3-point losing margin on average. Their OVER record on the road stands at 3-2 with an average of +3.3 points over posted totals.
McCown and Manziel have started for the Browns this season with the former enjoying the bulk of the starts. The former has started in seven of the nine games, but Manziel has enjoyed mop up duty in a couple of those. Therefore, dissecting the aforementioned stats in context of each quarterback is a bit tricky.
McCown started for the Browns in week 1 but an injury late in the first quarter saw Manziel takeover in what proved to be a losing effort to the Jets. Manziel’s first start came in week 2 which proved to be a winning effort over the Titans. From week 3 to week 8, McCown enjoyed six consecutive starts, albeit Manziel did step in for an injured McCown (shoulder) in a losing effort to the Rams in week 6. The following week McCown did return as the starter for the Browns at home to the Cardinals and while he was visibly injured he gritted it out in a 34-20 loss. Last week, Manziel earned his second start of the season, a Thursday Night clash against the Cincinnati Bengals that went the way of the hosts 31-10.
As it is, the Browns enter this game as the road underdogs. They opened at 4.5-points against the spread but appear to be creeping up to 5.5-points and higher at most sportsbooks. It remains to be seen how this NFL betting line changes when the starter is finally revealed.
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4, 3-2 Home)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are not without their fair share of quarterback injuries. Big Ben went down in week 3 in St. Louis and missed the next four games with an injured knee. Enter Michael Vick, stepping in for the injured starter in the next three games before going down with an injury in week 6 against the Cardinals. Enter Landry Jones, stepping in for backup Michael Vick and starting in week 7’s 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on the road.
Just when it started to look like the Steelers couldn’t catch a break on the injury front, Big Ben returned in week 8 for the Steelers and a divisional clash with the Bengals. Unfortunately, the joy was short lived. Steelers succumbed to a 16-10 loss and slipped to a 4-4 SU mark on the season. Oh and lost Le'Veon Bell for the season to an injury.
The following week Big Ben and the Steelers put in an inspired effort against the Raiders. The seasoned starter went 24-of-44 for 334 yards, two touchdown passes and 1 interception in a 38-35 winning effort. However, midway through the fourth quarter he went down with an injury yet again. Enter Landry Jones in relief to close out the game successfully despite a late rally by the Raiders.
The quarterback carousel and injury woes is enough to do anybody’s head in and set Steelers’ faithful on edge. Yet, somehow, the Steelers remain in contention for a spot in the playoffs, transcending their injury woes with heart, grit and determination. This points to the depth of their roster and exceptional coaching. They’re not blowing opponents off the field but they are managing to carve victories out and stay competitive.
As such, NFL odds makers send the Steelers into this game as the firm home chalk and the public seemingly agrees, evinced by the ever increasing line which opened at 4.5-points and moved to 5.5-points at most sportsbooks by midweek. The Steelers are just 5-4 SU on the season and 5-3-1 ATS mark and a 2.7-point margin of victory. At home, they are 2-2-1 ATS with a 6.2-point margin of victory on average.
NFL Betting Verdict
There’s so much up in the air as far as the quarterback situation is concerned that it looks to be a bit of a tossup on our NFL picks. But maybe it’s not.
Granted mums the word in Cleveland with Mike Pettine coyly refusing to reveal who his starting quarterback is going to be. Still, McCown does look doubtful and we might as well assume Manziel is getting the start.
Where the Steelers are concerned, Big Ben is surprisingly back on the practice field sans boot on his injured foot. He’s not ruling himself out of the game, but Coach Mike Tomlin probably isn’t going to risk him to further injury. Reports are that he’s preparing for the game with Landry Jones as his starter. So, we have that little crumb at least.
Those assumptions aside there is no doubt that the Steelers are the better team on paper. How else have they managed to rise above all these injuries and stay above .500 through most of the first 9 weeks? The opposite is the case with the Browns. They are simply not a good team.
Putting all those aspects together we have no choice but to lean towards the Steelers at home for the straight up win, which can be backed at a best price of -215 at BetOnline. As far as the spread goes, 5.5-points is starting to look a bit too high with the quarterbacks up in the air for this game so. As such, we’re not ruling out the Browns from keeping this game close and potentially covering as the 5.5-point road underdogs.