With Deshaun Watson now out for the remainder of the year due to a shoulder injury, the AFC North has become an even muddier scene. The Steelers and Browns find themselves with identical 6-3 records, holding a chance in Week 11 to move into a tie for first place in the division, but can Cleveland continue its good play with a question mark at quarterback?
Here are our NFL Week 11 best bets for Pittsburgh vs Cleveland.
Steelers vs Browns Odds
NFL odds used for this Pittsburgh vs Cleveland preview were found at DraftKings Sportsbook and are current as of Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 4 p.m. ET.
- Moneyline: Browns (-115) • Steelers (-105)
- Spread: Browns -1 (-110) • Steelers +1 (-110)
- Total Points: Over 33 (-108) • Under 33 (-112)
- Implied Score: Browns 17, Steelers 16
Steelers vs Browns Predictions
Score Pick: Browns 17, Steelers 13
The last time the Browns and Steelers played, Cleveland’s offense owned the day. Now only did it still have Nick Chubb (at least for part of the game) and get a decent performance from Watson, it also turned the ball over twice leading to two Steelers touchdowns.
It certainly doesn’t appear that will be the case again, with a low likelihood the Steelers will hang 26 points off of two defensive scores and a high likelihood that Kenny Pickett and Pittsburgh will continue to have issues moving the ball against a strong Browns defense.
This game will ultimately come down to defense, and there has been no better unit in the league than Cleveland, which ranks first in EPA per drop back and fourth in success rate on the ground. I trust the rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who had a solid college career, to find enough to get his team the win.
Steelers vs Browns Best Bets & Props
DraftKings • WAGER: 1 Unit
We haven’t seen nearly enough of Thompson-Robinson to be scared off of the line from his first NFL start. He had to face a menacing Ravens defense back in early October, and while his 52.8% completion percentage and 121 yards didn’t exactly jump off the page – and his three interceptions were a tough look – he did face the team currently ranked third in sack rate.
Thompson-Robinson was running for his life in the pocket, and that may be a bit different Sunday against a team ranked 13th in sack rate and 13th in pass rush win rate.
I watched a good deal of Thompson-Robinson at UCLA and was quite impressed by his ability on third downs, as well – another area the Steelers defense has struggled, ranking 22nd.
Behind such a strong defense, which will draw one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, the rookie shouldn’t need to do much to earn his first win. After throwing for 8.6 air yards on average against Baltimore, I expect the Browns to simplify the offense now that DTR is installed as their primary quarterback and move the ball.
The Browns defense should roll, making Cleveland our NFL bet of the day.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson Over 18.5 Rushing Yards (-120)
Caesars Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
While it’s never an easy comparison between college and the NFL given the step up in defense at the next level, we do know from watching Thompson-Robinson at UCLA that one of the strengths of his game is taking the ball himself and rushing. He averaged a whopping 5.5 yards per carry in his final season for the Bruins and rushed roughly nine times per game for 645 yards.
On top of that, we saw Thompson-Robinson rush four times for 24 yards, including a 12-yard scamper, against the Ravens in his only professional start.
The Steelers are allowing a poor five yards per carry to opposing quarterbacks this season, and with Thompson-Robinson still figuring out how to read opposing defenses, I think we’ll see him use his legs quite a bit here in what’s sure to be a close game.
With that, this number is far too low.
Steelers vs Browns Same-Game Parlay
Steelers vs Browns SGP (+340)
DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 0.5 Units
- Browns (-118)
- Thompson-Robinson Over 18.5 Rush Yds (-120)
- Kareem Hunt Over 30.5 Rush Yds (-115)
We’ve already covered the first two legs, so let’s juice this up a bit with another player prop.
The Steelers get a lot of credit for winning games behind their defense, but it’s important to remember the strength of this team does not lie on the interior. Pittsburgh has allowed 111.8 yards per game to running backs this season, which ranks third-worst, and they’re 26th in the league with 4.5 yards per carry against them on defense.
Enter Kareem Hunt, who has been steadily eased into action in his return to Cleveland. He received 36% of the snaps last week behind Jerome Ford, which marked his second-highest of the season, and if he sees the field for even just 30% of the snaps here, I have faith he will crack this Over.
Hunt has carried the ball an average of 12.7 times per game over the last three, and he’s hit the Over 30.5 rushing yards in each of his last five games. There’s a good chance he sees more action here than he has all year long, judging by the trends, and I also think they’ll want him out there a bit more with Thompson-Robinson to run the read option.
You can bank on Cleveland doing most of its work on the ground, and with how generous the Steelers have been to opposing runners this is a great way to capitalize.