Week 2 in the NFL concludes in Pittsburgh as the Steelers and Browns kick off the final leg of a Monday night doubleheader. These AFC North rivals were on different sides of the scoreboard in Week 1 as the Steelers will be looking to bounce back from a blowout loss at the hands of the 49ers. Meanwhile, Cleveland will look to move to 2-0 after defeating the Bengals in the opener.
Here, we're going to take a look at this game from a gambling perspective. We'll look at the line movement leading up to Monday, the total and dive into a handful of player props. Before we do, let's make sure you know how to watch this prime-time rivalry matchup.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
- Browns: WR Amari Cooper (rest, groin), DT Siaki Ika (foot), DB Juan Thornhill (calf) QUESTIONABLE
- Steelers: WR Diontae Johnson (hamstring), RB Anthony McFarland (knee) OUT
The momentum seems to be leaning toward the Browns as this game gets closer to kickoff. The line opened at Browns -1 and has since jumped a point to Browns -2, and even flirted with Browns -2.5 at various books.
The pick: Browns -2. This ultimately comes down to my confidence in the Browns defense being able to apply pressure on Kenny Pickett and disrupt him in a similar fashion they did to Joe Burrow a week ago and how the 49ers limited the Steelers QB in the opener. Pickett was sacked five times in Week 1 and hit nine times. That could repeat itself in this game with Myles Garrett and Za'Darius Smith screaming through the line of scrimmage. While the Steelers have historically owned "Monday Night Football" (have won 20 straight MNF games at home), I think the Browns defense will overpower them and lead to their first loss on this stage since 1991.
I like my pick on this game, but for another opinion, Sportsline expert R.J. White, who is 55-28-4 on his last 87 picks involving the Pittsburgh Steelers, has locked in another confident against the spread pick for Browns vs. Steelers. We can tell you he's leaning Under the total, but for his pick on this game click here.
Scoring doesn't seem to be on the menu for this game. After opening at 42.5, the total has dropped rather significantly to 38.5.
The pick: Under 38.5. This is probably best viewed as a stay-away with the number being dragged down as much as it has, but we'll slightly lean under here. This rivalry game could be a ball-controlled effort by Cleveland headlined by Nick Chubb, while the defense silences Kenny Pickett on the other side of the ball. Last week, the Steelers averaged just 3.9 yards per play and the Browns defense is certainly capable of laying similar pressure as the Niners did. Kevin Stefanski's team is also more than willing to turn this game into a ground-and-pound affair, which would certainly keep the scoring at a minimum. For the Browns, the Under has hit in seven of their last eight games.
Deshaun Watson props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over +152, Under -214)
Passing yards: 204.5 (Over -129, Under -106)
Passing attempts: 27.5 (Over -113, Under -121)
Passing completions: 17.5 (Over +104, Under -142)
Longest passing completion: 34.5 (Over -117, Under -117)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over +114, Under -157)
Rushing yards: 25.5 (Over -115, Under -119)
With star offensive tackle Jack Conklin out of the season, there's going to be a drop-off in protection for Deshaun Watson. Considering that he'll be facing T.J. Watt and a strong Steelers pass rush, the Browns quarterback could be flushed out of the pocket and forced to scramble a bit in this game and that's not even mentioning the designed runs he'll get in this offense. That's why we'll be looking at the Over on his 25.5 rushing yards prop in this matchup. Watson rushed five times last week for 45 yards and a touchdown and I expect that to remain a part of his game here.
Kenny Pickett props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over +190, Under -274)
Passing yards: 201.5 (Over -103, Under -133)
Passing attempts: 30.5 (Over -119, Under -115)
Passing completions: 18.5 (Over -135, Under -101)
Longest passing completion: 32.5 (Over -125, Under -109)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -119, Under -115)
Rushing yards: 13.5 (Over -119, Under -115)
It was a rough showing for Pickett in the opener and it doesn't get any easier on Monday night against a tough Browns front. I don't see Cleveland allowing Pickett much time to throw the ball in this game, nor let his receivers get downfield. So, we'll go under 32.5 on his longest completion and lean under on his 201.5 passing yards in this game as well. Last week, no Bengals receiver came close to going over 32.5 yards on a single catch, and with Diontae Johnson out for this game that's one less pass-catcher at Pickett's disposal.
Props to consider
Elijah Moore total receiving yards: Over 41.5 (-139). This has been creeping up in the wake of the news that Amari Cooper is unlikely to play, but there is still some value here for Moore. The wideout saw seven targets in his first game with the Browns and hauled in three for 43 yards. If he ticks that efficiency up a bit with Cooper sidelined, he'll have an easy time reaching this total.
Allen Robinson II total receptions: Over 2.5 (-154). Probably a square play, but Robinson saw eight targets last week and, with Diontae Johnson sidelined due to injury, Kenny Pickett is going to need a volume pass catcher.