Last week, the Cleveland Browns’ offense finally took off under QB Deshaun Watson
The 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers are still hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive
Watch Browns vs Steelers live on Sunday, January 8, 2023, at 1:00 PM ET on CBS
POINT SPREAD: Cleveland Browns +3.0 (-120) at Caesars
POINTS TOTAL: Over 40.5 (-110) at BetMGM
SPECIAL: 1st Score – on or after 7:00 Elapsed – No (-130) at DraftKings
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Get ready for an NFL Week 18 AFC North battle between the playoff spoiler Cleveland Browns and the right-on-the-bubble Pittsburgh Steelers, these Browns hoping to sweep their divisional arch enemies as their offense under QB Deshaun Watson begins to gel facing a Steelers team with a rookie under center, Kenny Pickett, whose favorite target is also a rookie, WR George Pickens.
Here are two fun facts for Browns fans brought to us by the sportsbooks – the Pittsburgh Steelers have failed to cover the spread in their last five games as favorites against AFC North opponents. They have lost six of their last eight games as favorites against AFC opponents, all the more reason to take the Cleveland Browns (+3.0) to cover here in Week 18.
Other reasons for that include an improved DC Joe Woods defense that makes Cleveland tough to pass against especially given their one-two punch on the defensive line with QB-hunting DEs Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney a pass-rushing force to be reckoned with, both facing a Steelers offensive line that features fierce LT Dan Moore Jr. and fiery RT Chukwuma Okorafor.
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According to the sportsbooks, each of the Browns' last six games have gone under the total points line, but keep in mind that they have been dealing with a serious changing of the guards under center as they replaced backup QB Jacoby Brissett in Week 13 with recently suspended starter Deshaun Watson, and that change has taken some time to work, the lack-of-play rust on Watson having built up over two seasons.
The oddsmakers predict these two teams will combine for 40.5 points, so let’s take a look at how these offenses have been performing throughout this season, with the Browns averaging 21.7 points per week and the Steelers averaging 17.5 points each game, that total of 39.2 just under what this bet allows but remember that both of these offenses started out slow this season.
A quick check of the defensive statistics shows that these two teams allow a total of 42.9 points per game (Browns defense – 22.1 ppg + Steelers defense – 20.8 ppg) which is a bit over this wager and another reason to take the over in this bet, a game in which the Steelers need to win to have any hope of advancing to the playoffs and the Browns want to win to end their rough season on a divisional high note.
There is no end to the exciting bets that are available during this NFL Week 18 AFC North matchup, a fun one being this Special from DraftKings, with the bettor having to guess whether the first score of this game will happen on or after the 7:00 minute mark on the clock has elapsed (-130) or if it will happen sometime before that (+100), a great way to add a thrill to this game.
Some key playmakers to watch for in this game include Browns pass-catching TE David Njoku who has become a solid go-to target for Watson, the perfect counter punch to Cleveland’s two headed backfield including RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, with D’Ernest Johnson and rookie Jerome Ford most likely getting snaps as the bright future of this rushing attack is exposed.
On Pittsburgh’s side of the field, watch for the relentless defensive pass rush of LB T.J. Watt and DEs Cam Heyward and (former Brown) Larry Ogunjobi, a group that has helped combine for 33 sacks during this season assisted in great part by the excellent midfield play of LB Alex Highsmith and the tight secondary coverage from CB Cameron Sutton and FS Minkah Fitzpatrick.
What: Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Where: Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA
When: Sunday, January 8, 2023, at 1:00 PM ET
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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