It’s a bittersweet day as Week 17 of the NFL regular season is finally upon us. Perhaps we should all be considered lucky that in this pandemic-impacted season, all games were still able to go ahead and be played – but after today, full Sunday slates will need to wait until next September.
But, it’s also a sign of better things to come, and this season’s playoffs should prove to be exhilarating. Two teams battling for playoff positioning will face-off Sunday of Week 17 in a key AFC North divisional clash as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns in a must-win game.
For Cleveland, they can make their long-awaited trip back to the playoffs with a victory over the division leaders in Pittsburgh. While the Steelers would surely love to ruin that party, Mike Tomlin feels that rest is a bit more important prior to the playoffs, and many key Steelers will be sitting this contest out.
The Browns need a win to get in, or an Indianapolis loss. It’s simple, win and they’re in, though with many within the franchise being impacted by COVID-19 lately, it remains to be seen who will be healthy and fit and ready to go for Sunday. It’s definitely something worth watching as we prepare for one of the more important games of Week 17. Enjoy!
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Steelers +10 (-120)
Cleveland Browns -10 (+100)
Over 43.5 (-110)
Under 43.5 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Pick:
In Week 17, information is key. It can be tough to truly handicap these games as we don’t know exactly what coaches are planning in terms of resting players and who will suit up vs. who won’t.
For this clash, we believe that even though the Steelers could push for the number two seed in the AFC, Mike Tomlin is going to allow his top players and veterans to rest against the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Haden, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Eric Ebron, and Maurkice Pouncey are all expected to sit this one out – which really does tilt the advantage to Cleveland.
Replacing Roethlisberger will likely be a combination of backup Mason Rudolph and third-stringer Joshua Dobbs. Expect Dobbs to feature in the second half. While the Steelers still boast some impressive offensive weapons, without Roethlisberger under centre, moving the ball could be tough. Though Cleveland has had some defensive issues of late, in a must-win scenario they should be able to handle the Steelers’ reserves. With Denzel Ward back, and a healthier defensive line, expect the Browns to be able to give their offense a shot to win.
When the Browns have the ball, expect them to be able to move it with ease. As mentioned, the Steelers will likely sit out some key defensive talents, and that should relieve some of the pressure Baker Mayfield would typically feel from guys like Watt and Heyward of Pittsburgh. Cleveland also gets their talented crew of receivers back for Week 17, and that should help to keep the chains moving.
While Pittsburgh will be keen to spoil the party, their backups are nowhere near the level of the Browns’ starters. And now that Cleveland is healthy, look for them to seek some payback after last week’s dismal showing vs. the Jets when they were severely undermanned. With the pieces being back in the lineup, expect Cleveland to take care of business in convincing fashion, covering this double-digit spread in a must-win spot.