Teams that squared off in the regular-season finale have met in the first round of the NFL Playoffs 14 times since the wild-card round was added in 1978. In eight of those instances, the club that lost the regular-season game bounced back to win the postseason matchup. That bodes well for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who host the Cleveland Browns in an AFC Wild Card contest on Sunday evening. Kickoff from Heinz Field is set for 8:15 p.m. ET.
Pittsburgh (12-4) dropped a 24-22 decision to Cleveland last Sunday to end its campaign with losses in four of its final five games. The victory was paramount for the Browns (11-5), who as a result earned their first playoff berth since 2002. Pittsburgh is a 5.5-point favorite in the latest Steelers vs. Browns odds from William Hill Sportsbook, while the over-under for total points scored is 48. Before locking in any Browns vs. Steelers picks or NFL predictions, make sure you see what SportsLine's top Steelers expert, R.J. White, has to say.
CBS Sports' fantasy and gambling editor, White enters the playoffs on a sizzling 76-52-5 run. It's no surprise, as White twice has cashed huge in the world's most prestigious football handicapping competition, the Las Vegas SuperContest.
In addition, White has gone an astounding 26-11 on his last 37 NFL picks involving Pittsburgh. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
Now, White has locked in on Steelers vs. Browns from every angle and released another confident against-the-spread pick. You can visit SportsLine now to see it. Here are several NFL odds and trends for Browns vs. Steelers:
- Steelers vs. Browns spread: Pittsburgh -5.5
- Steelers vs. Browns over-under: 48 points
- Steelers vs. Browns money line: Pittsburgh -260, Cleveland +220
- PIT: Steelers are 7-2 against the spread in their last nine home playoff games
- CLE: Browns are 3-11 in their last 14 road contests
Why the Steelers can cover
Pittsburgh rested several key players in its regular season-ending loss at Cleveland, including two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger. That should be very beneficial for the 38-year-old quarterback, who returned from an elbow injury that cost him most of the 2019 season and threw for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Another player the Steelers kept out of the lineup last week was T.J. Watt, who still led the NFL with a career-high 15 sacks. The 26-year-old linebacker from the University of Wisconsin is one of 12 players in NFL history to register at least 13 in three consecutive seasons. Watt has enjoyed playing against the Browns, as he's gotten to the quarterback in six of his seven career meetings with the AFC North rivals.
Why the Browns can cover
Despite the fact that Pittsburgh rested its starting quarterback and top pass rusher, the Browns gained some confidence by winning what essentially was a playoff game for them last week. Cleveland rode its ground attack to victory, with Nick Chubb gaining 108 of the team's 192 yards. The 25-year-old from the University of Georgia recorded his second straight 1,000-yard season with 1,067 and ran for a career-high 12 touchdowns.
The Browns possess the third-best rushing offense (148.4 yards per game) in the NFL that also includes Kareem Hunt, who amassed 841 yards and six TDs on 198 carries in his first full season with the team. The 25-year-old also was a key component in Cleveland's passing game, making 38 catches for 304 yards and a club-high five scores. In six career contests against the Steelers, Hunt has hauled in 20 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
How to make Steelers vs. Browns picks
White has analyzed this matchup and while he's leaning over, he has discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He's only sharing it here.
So who wins Browns vs. Steelers in the 2021 NFL playoffs? And what critical X-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Browns vs. Steelers spread you should jump on Sunday, all from the NFL expert who's 26-11 on picks involving Pittsburgh, and find out.