Wild Card weekend concludes with two division rivals clashing in the Steel City. The No. 3 seed Pittsburgh Steelers host the 6-seed Cleveland Browns inside Heinz Field, Sunday night on NBC. Kickoff is set for 8:15pm EST.
The AFC North foes split their two meetings in the regular season, with the Steelers dominating the first encounter in Week 6 and the Browns evening things up in the season finale by two.
Cleveland Browns Betting Preview: Party Like It’s 2002
The Browns are finally back in the playoffs. Their win over the Steelers last Sunday ended the NFL’s longest postseason drought, but another ominous streak awaits them on January 10. Cleveland has not won in Pittsburgh in their last 17 tries, good enough for the third-longest road streak to a single opponent in league history.
To make matters worse, they lost a string of 16 in a row from 1970-1985, which is the fifth-longest streak the league has witnessed. And to cap all that off, the Steelers have ended the Browns’ last two playoff runs, including in 2002 which only lasted one game.
Kevin Stefanski’s rookie run as a head coach should be good enough to put him at the top of the Coach of the Year discussion, as he engineered an offense that finished third in the league in rushing.
Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Preview: Pulling Back the Steel Curtain
The Steelers rested many of their starters in Week 17, including QB Ben Roethlisberger, and still came within a two-point conversion of tying the Browns at the end of the game. Big Ben will be back under center on Sunday night, and so will the majority of the team’s defensive standouts. The Pittsburgh D finished third in the NFL in yards per game and points per game allowed.
During that Week 6 meeting in Pittsburgh, the Steelers limited the Browns’ rushing attack to just 75 yards after jumping out to a 24-0 lead. To be fair, Nick Chubb missed the game after suffering a sprained MCL two weeks prior and will be a huge part of the game plan in the playoffs.
Browns vs. Steelers Betting Odds & Lines
MyBookie has installed the Steelers as the home favorites for Wild Card Weekend, as Pittsburgh is laying 5 with an over/under of 46.5. The two teams had opposite results in this scenario during the regular season as the Browns finished 6-10 ATS and 3-5 on the road, while the Steelers were 10-6 ATS overall and 5-3 at home.
Free Betting Pick
We’ve chronicled the lack of playoff experience from the Cleveland side, but it’s also been two years since the Steelers have advanced as well. However, Pittsburgh is much more familiar with this stage, including the time slot.
The Steelers have played 36 Sunday night games, including the playoffs, since NBC took over the broadcasting rights in 2006. The Browns have played just three. Cleveland should be playing with nothing to lose, but the spotlight will be too big in the end.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Steelers -5