STEELERS (5-4) AT BROWNS (3-6)
TV: Ch. 5, NFL, 8:20 p.m.
Browns by 2.5; O/U: 40.5
The Browns were my preseason pick to win the Super Bowl and even after a 2-5 start, I still saw a path to a wild-card spot. I just couldn't put down the Brownies.
Cleveland needs to win this game to keep its long shot a reality, but it won't happen. There's just too many factors stacked against the Browns, and not just that they haven't beaten the Steelers in their last eight tries (seven losses, one tie).
Fresh off their first home win, I wanted to pick the Browns to keep my, I mean, their hopes alive. But picking NFL games is about the present, not the past future bets. Cleveland is 0-3-1 against the spread at home, and on a short week, the Steelers have the huge coaching advantage with Mike Tomlin over Freddie Kitchens.
The Browns' 19-16 win over the Bills Sunday was another reason to not back the Browns. They should have won that game by 10 points, but struggles inside the red zone made it a tense game that wasn't decided till Buffalo missed a field goal.
Pittsburgh has won four in a row after a 1-4 start, and it's all about the defense. In a 17-12 win over the Rams Sunday, the Steelers allowed just three offensive points. Pittsburgh has the second-most takeaways at 26 (14 interceptions, 12 fumbles) and is second with a plus-13 turnover differential. Cleveland is minus-8.
T.J. Watt and the Steelers' pass rush, as well as sensational trade acquisition Minkah Fitzpatrick and the secondary, will frustrate Baker Mayfield. The Steelers' offense has issues, but they're likely getting back top rusher James Conner.
This will be close (17-13 kind of game), but the Steelers' defense will deliver again and force Mayfield into a costly turnover. It's hard for me to admit it, but that's just the way the Brownie crumbles.
Bob Glauber: Browns
Tom Rock: Browns
Al Iannazzone: Steelers