Steelers cover vs. Browns easily after Cleveland COVID-19 news?
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter,
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski
has tested positive for COVID-19 and, among others, will be unavailable for the Cleveland-Pittsburgh playoff game on NFL Wild-Card weekend.
Stefanski was not the only member of the Browns to test positive on Monday, however:
Accompanying Stefanski to the COVID list will be defensive backs coach Jeff Howard
and tight ends coach Drew Petzing
along with all-world guard Joel Bitonio
and reserve wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge
from the player personnel end.
As a result of the positive COVID tests, Cleveland will have to make a go of their first playoff appearance since 2002 without Stefanski, Howard, Petzing, Hodge, and Bitonio.
Per the team, special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer
will be employed as the acting head coach while offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt
is expected to call the offensive plays in Stefanski’s absence.
If you don’t think Stefanski’s loss is a catastrophic one, then you better think again. The first-year head coach is in the running for the NFL’s Coach of the Year (COTY) honor.
And while Hodge’s absence will not be a significant one, Bitonio’s will be. Bitonio is a three-time Pro Bowler (2018-2020) and was voted second-team All-Pro twice (2018-2019). Bitonio is also on the fast track to the All-Pro honor once again for his 2020 contributions.
Bitonio finished the regular season as the sixth-best guard according to Pro Football Focus
with an 84.6 grade on 1,061 snaps while playing in 16 games. He was also second in pass-blocking and 10th in run blocking.
The Browns will miss Bitonio on all fronts, especially facing a loaded Steelers front seven. Bitonio was expected to manage Cam Heyward. With reserve G Chirs Hubbard
on the injured reserve list, the Browns are expected to turn to Nick Harris
or Michael Dunn
As a result of the Stefanski and Bitonio losses, the lines at PointsBet for the Browns-Steelers Wild Card Round matchup have moved, which was the expected outcome.
On Monday, it opened with the Steelers giving (-3.5) to the Browns. It currently sits at (-6), a 2.5-point swing.
- Point Spread: Steelers -6 (-110)/ Browns +6 (-110)
- Total: 47.5 — Over 47.5 (-115)/ Under 47.5 (-105)
- Moneyline: Steelers (-281) Browns (+220)
- Implied Totals: Steelers 26.5 Browns 20.5