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This is a tough game to evaluate because of the uncertainty of the injury situation for Cleveland. As I write this, we still don’t know if Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, and Nick Chubb (to name a few), are going to play. I am assuming that all three are playing on Sunday, and my evaluation is based on them being healthy and a part of the game. The winner of this game is in decent shape in the division, while the loser has got a hole to dig out of. Let’s check out the stats.
TOTAL TEAM POINTS:
Pittsburgh: Total Team Points 20.5 The Steelers are averaging 20 points per game, but they have scored 27 and 23 the past two games, both wins. Also, keep in mind, they have played Buffalo, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, and Green Bay in their first 6 games. Together, these teams have a combined record of 20-7, so their schedule has been formidable. Ben Roethlisberger has taken a lot of abuse for the lack of offensive production, but he is has completed 65% of his passes for 254 passing yards per game. The Cleveland defense has been hot and cold, and in three of their seven games, they have allowed 33, 37, and 47 points. But, last Thursday night, with their backs to the walls because of all the offensive injuries, they held Denver to 14 points. So who knows what we are going to get. I think the Browns defense steps up and I’ll take the UNDER 20.5.
Cleveland: Total Team Points 23.5 Again, we are assuming the Browns are going to be healthy and have their three key players back on offense. Since getting hurt about a month ago, Mayfield has not played well, and the injury has hampered him. One has to wonder how effective he will be. Chubb did not play last week and his ability to be 100% is doubtful. The Browns got a huge lift from the return of Landry, but then he left before the game was over. The bright spot was the play of 3rd string running back, D’Ernest Johnson who was spectacular against the Broncos. The Browns are averaging 25 points per game and when they are healthy they have the ability to score. But, being realistic, they aren’t going to be. I would take the UNDER 23.5 total team points.
OVER/UNDER COMBINED TEAM TOTALS: 42.5 The two teams are averaging 45 points combined per game. One would assume they could score 43 points in this one, but this is shaping up as a slugfest. And we are nearing the time of the year when the weather in Cleveland could be nasty. I like UNDER 42.5 in this one.
POINTS SPREAD: Cleveland -3.5
The Browns are the better team, but can they overcome the injuries. The Steelers are playing better after a dreadful start and are always hard for Cleveland to beat. Since 2000, Pittsburgh is 36-6-1 against the Browns. I think Cleveland wins 21-20.
PAPA DUDES PICK: Pittsburgh +3.5
AARON’S PICK: Pittsburgh OVER 20.5 team total points.
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