Significant Line Movement For Browns vs. Steelers Game Following Kevin Stefanski’s Positive COVID Test

Written By Matt Burke on January 5, 2021
Steelers line Browns spread Kevin Stefanski COVID

One could easily make the case that in-game coaching is more important in the game of football than it is in any other major sport.

Oddsmakers seem to agree on its importance, as on Tuesday we saw some significant line adjustments after it was learned that Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski and two other coaches would miss the Browns’ Sunday night playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to positive COVID-19 tests.

The line opened at Pittsburgh -4 at DraftKings Sportsbook and bounced between that number and -4.5 yesterday. Right after the Stefanski news broke late Tuesday morning, the DraftKings spread went from Steelers -4.5 to -5.5 and it got to Steelers -6 by 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Browns were 6-point underdogs at FanDuel Sportsbook as of 2 p.m. Tuesday. PointsBet also had Cleveland as a 6-point dog, as did FOX Bet and BetMGM.

Browns odds

Cleveland had some of the longest Super Bowl odds out of the 14-team playoff field before the Stefanski news as they were +5000 to win it all at DraftKings Sportsbook Monday. Those odds had not changed as of Tuesday afternoon.

Only Washington (+10000 at DK) and the Bears (+10000) were bigger longshots.

The total for the Browns vs. Steelers playoff game is currently . The two teams combined for 45 total points in their first meeting this season (a 38-7 Steelers victory in Pittsburgh) and for 46 points this past Sunday in Cleveland (a 24-22 win by the Browns, though the Steelers were resting several key starters). For a full Browns vs. Steelers betting preview, go here.

Here is a look at the best Browns futures prices.


Coaching matters

Cleveland defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing also tested positive, as did two Browns players – Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the Browns’ acting head coach for Sunday night’s game and, according to ESPN, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will call the team’s offensive plays. Stefanski, the former offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, typically calls the offensive plays for Cleveland himself.

Not only will the Browns’ in-game routine be affected with Stefanski absent from the sidelines, but Cleveland’s preparation for the game this week will be compromised as well with their head coach unable to attend practices. The Browns facility has been closed to conduct contract tracing.

We saw a similar line swing in college football earlier this season when Alabama head coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19. The line went from Alabama -6 over Georgia at Caesars/Harrah’s, to Alabama -4 over the course of a few hours.

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Matt Burke

Matt Burke is the Sports Editor and Head of Evergreen/SEO Content at He is the Founder and former Editor-in-Chief of MetroBet, a digital and print sports betting platform, and was the Executive Sports Editor at Metro US Newspapers (New York, Philadelphia, Boston) from 2014-2020. Matt has covered Super Bowls and Final Fours, and his work has appeared for Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, the Eagle Tribune, Gloucester Daily Times and Newburyport Daily News. Matt is a graduate of the University of Connecticut.

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