Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) meet on the field following an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. The Steelers won 38-7. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
- Cleveland battles Pittsburgh on MNF, with the Steelers trying to stay alive in the AFC playoff chase
- Monday Betting Record: 1-3 ML; 5-6 ATS; 2-1 O/U; -3.08 units
- Read below for odds, analysis and a betting prediction
The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers started Sunday on life support needing a win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive in Week 17’s finale.
When they take the field Monday night, only one still has hopes.
Following Cincinnati’s win overthe Chiefs earlier in the day, and Los Angeles beating the Broncos in the late starts, Cleveland has been eliminated from postseason play, and left to play spoiler. The Steelers are still alive, but need wins and a ton of help to sneak in as a wild card.
Cleveland dished out self-inflicted pain in a dreadful 24-22 loss to the Packers last week in a game they had every right winning, while Pittsburgh was belted in Kansas City 36-10 — the fifth straight game the team had failed to score a TD in the first half.
The Browns are currently 3-point road favorites, though history suggests this is a football wasteland for them, while the Steelers are the winningest team in MNF history.
It all gets underway from the Heinz Field at 8:15pm ET. The game can be seen live on ESPN.
Browns vs Steelers Odds
|Cleveland Browns||-3.5 (-105)||-165||O 41.5 (-105)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||+3.5 (-115)||+145||U 41.5 (-115)|
Odds as of Jan 2 at DraftKings
The betting public is eyeing this matchup as a close encounter with the Browns taking it. In all, 83% of the bets placed against the spread are on the Steelers, with 87% of the moneyline wagers on the Browns.
It will be a frigid one in Pittsburgh, with weather expected to be 26 degrees at kickoff, with clear skies.
Cleveland Browns Outlook
Another week, another failed attempt at the Browns winning a close game.
It was a major struggle for quarterback Baker Mayfield, who tossed four interceptions last time out in a loss to Green Bay, including a pick on their final drive, where they working to get to winning field goal range.
The first three interceptions all led to Packers’ TD drives. Under duress all day by a relentless Green Bay pass rush, Mayfield was sacked five times.
Baker Mayfield’s fourth interception of the game is the dagger in this one pic.twitter.com/syk0Iqk8mP
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) December 26, 2021
This was Cleveland’s third straight loss and the sixth game this year where they’ve lost by six or fewer points. Mayfield is now a grim 0-for-5 on potential game-winning drives on the year.
His performance spoiled another all-world day for running back Nick Chubb, who ran for 126 yards and a touchdown, while also picking up 58 yards receiving.
Nick Chubb’s 40-yard catch-and-run leads to his 1-yard TD plunge.
Browns lead Packers 6-0.
— Bally Sports (@BallySports) December 25, 2021
Chubb is averaging a whopping 5.5 yards per carry this season, and is third in the NFL in rushing with 1,143 yards, despite missing three games this year.
Cleveland is getting healthier, as DE Jadeveon Clowney, RB Kareem Hunt, C JC Tretter, LT Jedrick Wills and K Chase McLaughlin are all back from their stint on the COVID-19 reserve list. DE Myles Garett (groin) and DT Malik Jackson (knee) are dinged up but expected to play.
Pittsburgh Steelers Outlook
Another week, another stinker of a performance from the Steelers’ offense. Much of that falls in the lap of 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has struggled mightily. It appears this may be his final home game in what has been an illustrious career.
Ben Roethlisberger won’t speak in definites, but he says “all signs” are pointing that “this could be it” his last game — at least regular season — at Heinz Field. pic.twitter.com/9jlhR99Kty
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) December 30, 2021
That could be the spark this team needs, as they have been brutal as of late, setting a dubious NFL record of trailing by at least 23 points at the half in three straight games. Failing to score a TD in the first half of their last five games has them playing uphill every time out. They’ve been outscored 97-9 before halftime of those games.
— Alabama Rydeouts (@MarvinBama16) December 26, 2021
Pittsburgh was shelled last time out against the Chiefs, and Roethlisberger couldn’t get it going, going 23-for-35 for 159 yards and a TD.
Their defense, which ranks last in both rush yards per game and yards per rush, will be tested by Cleveland. They did, however, hold Chubb to just 97 yards in a win earlier in the season.
Browns vs Steelers Pick
How much does the past figure into the present? Cleveland has lost 17 straight regular-season games at Heinz Field, with their last win was in 2003.
The Steelers are 14-1 against Cleveland in home regular-season finales, and will be attempting to sweep this series for the 14th time since the Browns started up again in 1999.
Still, Cleveland is the better team, and for all his struggles, Mayfield is at least a functioning QB compared to what Roethlisberger has been down the stretch.
Yet, I can’t find it in me to back either. Count on this one being a clunker, with scoring drives resulting in more kicks than paydirt.
Pick: UNDER 41.5 (1.5 units to win 1.31 units)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.