Week 11 brings us another entertaining game of Thursday Night Football, this time between AFC North rivals. The Pittsburgh Steelers will take their four-game winning streak into FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns. There are plenty of stars on show in this game, including JuJu Smith-Schuster, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry on the outside. Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph may not be the blockbuster quarterback matchup, but both are playing solid enough right now to make this an entertaining game. Other star names in this game include Minkah Fitzpatrick, Nick Chubb, and Myles Garrett. Let’s take a look at our team’s betting picks for the Week 11 TNF matchup between the Steelers and Browns.
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium
Time: 8:30 pm EST
Spread: Browns -3
Interestingly, this point spread has moved from Browns -2.5 to -3 despite the majority of the bets coming in on the Steelers. However, the money split is closer to 50/50 than the number of bets, which would explain the line flicking up to a consensus of three full points. Fascinatingly over 50% of the money has come in on the under, but the line has still moved up from 40 to 40.5.
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There is a lot about this game which makes me uncertain. Both offenses have struggled, and both defenses have had their day this season. The under on the total seems an excellent way to lean, but I would avoid the team totals. I am going to look towards a specific prop for one player. Last week the Steelers defense only really struggled against Todd Gurley, who had a lot of success running on the right side of the offense.
Looks like Todd Gurley had a lot of success running to the right side of the formation/OL last week. Why the heck would they stop? pic.twitter.com/SMJPzwvOvd
— Sosa K (@QBsMVP) November 13, 2019
The return of Kareem Hunt was muted as the end of the line for Nick Chubb, but that was not the case last week. Chubb was fantastic last week with Hunt on the field, averaging over 10 yards per rush. In contrast, he struggled to make any headway when Hunt was not on the field.
With Kareem Hunt on the active roster, the @Browns used “Pony Personnel” (2 HB) featuring Hunt & Nick Chubb on the field together for 28 of 65 plays (43%).@NickChubb21 gained 113 of his 116 rush yards on 11 carries with Hunt also on the field.#BUFvsCLE | #Browns pic.twitter.com/dTk7qf7ydd
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 10, 2019
That is a positive sign for a running back who has had six games with over 85 rushing yards in his last seven. The Steelers defense has been impressive, but we saw last week that Gurley still managed to have success, and I think Chubb does just as well this week.
1u – Nick Chubb Over 81.5 Rushing Yards | -111
Pittsburgh is getting 2.5 points on the road in Cleveland, and this is the classic case of me needing to have the willpower to stay away. I would lean the Steelers money line in this spot at about +130, especially with the potential return of James Conner. The question becomes, are the Stealers truly as good as they have looked on this recent four-game winning streak, or are they a true regression candidate in this spot. The Browns have shown life on offense the past few weeks, moving the ball up and down the field offensively, but their red-zone conversion rate has been abysmal. I could see taking a stab at the Under here as well, although 40 is a very low number, and just a few quirky plays can wreck that plan. If you’re into teasers, maybe Pittsburgh +8.5 and Under 46? In the end, I can’t, in good faith, strongly recommend any of those plays. Stay away.
This will be Freddie Kitchens’ first Thursday night game as a head coach, a position that has been lucrative to bet against in the past. While I have been a critic of Mike Tomlin in recent seasons, the job he has done this year is incredible. To be 5-4 and in the playoff hunt, despite losing Ben Roethlisberger, is remarkable. The coaching edge undoubtedly goes to Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers in this match up.
The match-up in the trenched is more even than I first thought. Pittsburgh ranks just 29th in offensive line yards, 1st in adjusted sack rate while Cleveland’s defensive line ranks 28th and 9th, respectively. Cleveland’s offensive line ranks 14th in adjusted line yards and 21st in adjusted sack rate while Pittsburgh’s defensive line ranks 15th and 2nd, respectively. Given this data, you would expect the Browns to focus on the run more, though that has not been the case this season. Kitchens did run by far the fewest 11 (three wide receivers) personnel last week against Buffalo, however. He needs to continue that trend to keep the pressure off Baker Mayfield in this game.
As underwhelming as you think Mason Rudolph has been this year, Mayfield has been worse in some regards. Rudolph has higher adjusted net yards per attempt (6.18/4.91), completion percentage (64.5/59.9), and touchdown percentage (5.4/2.9) via Pro Football Reference.
Given the way these teams match up, I expect both offenses to focus on the run in this game. James Conner will be back for Pittsburgh, which bodes well for their run game. Both him and Nick Chubb should have success on the ground. In terms of pace, both Pittsburgh and Cleveland hover near the bottom third of the league in both total pace (24th/18th) and situation neutral pace (18th/20th). I like the game to go under the total as a result. 40.5 is fine, but I would prefer the key number of 41 if you can find it.
As far as the spread, I would lean Pittsburgh but would take them on the money line if you plan to wager on them. However, if Kitchens comes out with a run-heavy game plan, Cleveland should be able to come out on top.
1u – Under 41 Total Points | -110
Thursday Night Football is the “What If” game. What if Ben Roethlisberger didn’t get hurt and What If the Browns lived up to the hype? Having said that, the under is the closest I get to a play, as the props side of things is a stay-away. Better off stay back on this and wait for Sunday.
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