Both teams played nail-bitters in every game, so far. All four games were decided by a combined total of just 9 points. A few plays going differently here or there, and either team could just as easily be undefeated – or winless. Could this be another close game that goes down to the final minute?
A pair of inconsistent 1-1 teams will meet on Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cleveland to take on the rival Browns in a critical AFC North matchup.
The winner takes over first place in the division, while the loser likely faces a much tougher road ahead.
Both of these teams have played nail-bitters in every game, so far. In fact, all four games were decided by a combined total of just 9 points. A few plays going differently here or there, and either team could just as easily be undefeated or winless.
At Spreads.ca, Cleveland is listed as a -4 point favourite. The total (O/U 38.5) is one of the lowest of the season, to date.
ALL LINES ARE BASED ON WHAT'S AVAILABLE AT SPREADS.CA. ALSO NOTE THE BONUSES, BOOSTED BETS, AND OTHER ATTRACTIONS AT SPREADS.CA
Kickoff takes place at 8:15 pm EDT.
Analysis: A close, low-scoring game is expected
The Steeler defence will miss All-Pro T.J. Watt, as he is one of the top players in the NFL. Nonetheless, Mike Tomlin's unit remains well-above average on the defensive side of the ball, surrendering only 18 points per game. The Steelers secondary also has five interceptions this season, second-most in the NFL.
Even though Cleveland boasts a terrific rushing attack, opponents are gaining only 4.0 yards per carry rushing against Pittsburgh through two games. The Browns' offense remains relatively one-dimensional with backup QB Jacoby Brissett taking snaps (Deshaun Watson seems a distant hope in the future at this point). The Browns are below the NFL average in passing yards and passing yards per attempts, and Cleveland's passing game projects to continue struggling.
We believe Pittsburgh's defence will keep this one close, so long as their offence can do just enough to move the ball and score some points. Betting on Mitch Trubisky can be a prospect, but he does appear to be more comfortable with a new team with some veteran talent.
Update: This week's full report with every game analyzed and picks for every matchup will be released on Saturday morning.
Predictions (posted by Pointspreads.ca):
Looking at trends could be helpful in handicapping the game.
Road dogs have fared very well overall in recent seasons, hitting at a remarkable rate of about 57 percent. Getting +4 points with a division rival appears to have some value.
What's also temping is the UNDER here, though the total is alarmingly low. Both TNF games have gone UNDER this year. Perhaps the short preparation week hurts the offences more than defences. Whatever the reasoning, it's hard to see many points being scored by two offenses quarterbacked by Mitch Trubisky and Jacoby Brissett.
We lean to both Pittsburgh +4 and UNDER 38.5 in the full game.
However, the smarter wagers might be:
 taking the Steelers on the moneyline at 2.60 ($100 returns $260) -- if Pittsburgh covers they could very well win outright, which pays handsomely, and
 taking the Steelers +3 in the first half -- if the Browns running attack wears down Pittsburgh, that probably happens in the second half.
So, we'll take PITTSBURGH +3 (1H) and PITTSBURGH 2.60 (ML)