Each week, TheLines will provide a daily betting breakdown and analysis for the upcoming Thursday Night Football game. We’ll look at the odds and see why they’re moving a certain way, along with breaking down the matchup and providing the week’s best TNF betting promotions.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns will face off at FirstEnergy Stadium for a Week 11 AFC North showdown on Thursday night. The game will mark the 135th meeting in a series the Steelers lead, 75-58-1. The most recent game between the teams unfolded October 28th of the 2018 season, with the Steelers notching a 33-18 win at Heinz Field. In that game, James Conner ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 66 yards on five receptions.
TNF betting odds and analysis
The Browns opened as three-point favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook late last week. That number has only been bet down a half-point. This, despite the Steelers sporting a four-game winning streak and increasingly likely to have Conner back in the fold from his shoulder injury. Meanwhile, the Browns barely snapped a four-game losing streak with a razor-thin 19-16 win over the Bills.
Cleveland did make one major talent addition in Week 10 in the form of Kareem Hunt. The star running back made his 2019 debut after serving a season-opening eight-game suspension. Hunt logged 38 snaps versus Buffalo, recording seven catches while taking four carries for 30 yards. The 1-2 punch of Nick Chubb and Hunt could prove the most potent of any duo in the league for the remainder of the season and plays a part in Cleveland’s projected Week 11 advantage.
The projected total of 40 points as of Wednesday is still one of the lowest of the week. Yet, considering how inefficient the Browns’ offense has often been – including during Hunt’s Week 10 debut – that figure isn’t unrealistic, especially when also factoring the Steelers have gotten touchdowns from their defense in consecutive weeks.
Browns vs. Steelers game matchup
What is turning into a rather remarkable season for the Steelers continued with their 17-12 win over the Rams on Sunday. Pittsburgh continued to effectively manage attrition on the offensive side of the ball to notch its fourth straight victory, with another big helping hand from their defense. The Steelers’ pass rush recorded four sacks and nine hits overall on Los Angeles’ Jared Goff. Minkah Fitzpatrick also tallied his second defensive touchdown since joining Pittsburgh with a fumble recovery produced on one of the occasions the Steelers got to the quarterback.
The Browns were able to effectively put the clamps down on Josh Allen and his teammates in a 19-16 win over the Bills. The win snapped a four-game losing streak, but nothing was certain until Steven Hauschka missed a 53-yard field-goal attempt wide left with 22 seconds remaining after an eight-play, 40-yard march.
There were several encouraging aspects of the narrow win for Cleveland. That includes a mistake-free performance from Baker Mayfield, a 100-yard effort from Chubb and the 74 total yards from scrimmage Hunt managed on 11 touches in his debut. Although this game will unfold only four days later, Hunt could be notably more involved. After all, the Browns were successfully able to garner an exemption from the league that allowed Hunt to begin practicing two weeks early. Therefore, he’s been getting a solid amount of on-field work with the offense and also took plenty of reps in training camp and preseason this past summer.
The fact Cleveland now has two starting-caliber backs may pay immediate dividends against the Steelers. Consider Pittsburgh’s defense is second only to New England’s in total takeaways with 26, as well as in turnover differential with a +13. Their 12 fumble recoveries rank them tops in the NFL. In turn, the Browns are tied with the Jets for fifth-most giveaways (17). Mayfield has been responsible for 13 of those (12 interceptions, one lost fumble). Cleveland has also allowed 25 sacks of Mayfield, while the Steelers check in with the third-most quarterback takedowns (33) in the league. The one sure way to mitigate that poor matchup and up the chances of avoiding costly mistakes is by keeping the ball on the ground as much as possible.
On the other sideline, the Steelers will look to continue giving Mason Rudolph progressively greater access to the playbook. The young signal-caller was able to throw for 242 yards versus a solid Rams defense in Week 10. However, he’ll be going up against a more talented secondary in that of the Browns’. Now that Damarious Randall has overcome his hamstring injury, Cleveland finally has Randall and fellow Pro Bowler Denzel Ward healthy simultaneously. Therefore, a run-centric attack featuring Conner and/or Jaylen Samuels could be Pittsburgh’s path of least resistance, as the Browns are allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game (134.9).
KEY MATCHUP: Browns’ run game vs. Steelers’ run defense. Chubb is a bona-fide matchup-proof back that arguably becomes even more dangerous with the presence of Hunt. Not only can Hunt keep Chubb fresher throughout the game, but the presence of both on the field keeps a defense guessing and off-balance. Given Mayfield’s mistake-prone ways and Pittsburgh’s ferocious pass rush, the ability of Cleveland to move the chains on the ground consistently will be key to the Browns avoiding costly turnovers.
Thursday Night Football betting breakdown
The Steelers lead the all-time series between the teams, 75-58-1. Pittsburgh is 7-0-1 over the last eight games in the series, with the Browns’ most recent victory coming by a 31-10 score back in October 2014.
The Steelers are 6-3 (66.7 percent) against the spread this season, including 2-1 (66.7 percent) as an away team. Then, the Over is 3-6 (33.3 percent) in the Steelers’ games this season, including 0-3 in their away games.
The Browns are 2-6-1 (25.0 percent) against the spread this season, including 0-3-1 as a home team. Then, the Over is 4-5 (44.5 percent) in the Browns’ games this season, including 2-2 (50.0 percent) in their home games.
Steelers vs. Browns picks and predictions
Best Thursday Night Football betting sites
How to watch Thursday Night Football
The Thursday Night Football schedule is the most complex of the primetime NFL spots.
The first Thursday season opener didn’t fall under the TNF title. That game was available on NBC at 8:20 p.m. Eastern. Then, the three-game Thanksgiving slate in Week 13 will be carried by three different networks.
FOX gets the 12:30 p.m. Eastern spot featuring the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. CBS carries the Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and NBC finishes the day with the New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons at 8:20 p.m. Eastern.
NFL Network carried the exclusive rights in Weeks 2 and 3. It will also carry special editions of TNF on the Sundays of Weeks 6 and 9, with the games being broadcast from London, England.
NFL Network, FOX and Amazon Prime Video each carry the Thursday broadcast in Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 15. Week 16 is converted into a Saturday tripleheader with each game available only on NFL Network.
Still with us? Each Thursday night game will begin at 8:20 p.m. Eastern, regardless of the network. Both Sunday morning games from London begin at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.
Games can be streamed on NFL Network, FOX Sports Go, Amazon Prime and Twitch. Additionally, NFL Network and FOX can be streamed on services such as Roku, PS4 and Xbox One.
Whether it’s the mid-week time slot, the perceived lower-quality game, or the hurdles people have to go through to find the proper channel, TNF has been among the lowest-rated games of the NFL season. Last year, in FOX’s first with the coverage rights, the ratings jumped seven percent from 2017. The Week 15 contest closed the year for FOX with a 12.4 overnight rating, according to Nielsen.
Thursday Night Football betting tips
How to bet TNF like a sharp
Thursday Night Football condenses the practice week for coaches, decreases recovery time for players and limits opportunities for media members to uncover stories and create narratives. This unpredictability factor can help to level the sports-betting playing field.
Taking the most rested team is never a bad idea. You want the healthiest squad with the longest amount of preparation time since its last game.
Siding with the home team in what would otherwise be a pick’em doesn’t hurt, either. You want the team that’s spent the longest amount of time preparing in the proper city, not wasting what can be the better of a day traveling.
You want the healthiest side, as simple as that. Without a proper injury report, it can be tough to tell what level of health players will be at when gearing up to play in a big primetime spot. Don’t expect a player who left a game Sunday to return in elite form by Thursday. He’ll more than likely be a decoy.
Don’t fall into the public opinion trap of TNF always being a lousy game. It’s still one of only 16 games those two teams will play all year and most of them generally need to win. Coaches will do the best with what they have, and plenty of players (Hello, Nick Mullens!) have burst onto the scene with strong games while filling in for an injured starter (or backup in Mullens’ case).
Frequently Asked Questions
When does Thursday Night Football start?
Thursday Night Football will begin with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Carolina Panthers in an NFC South matchup to begin Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season. The game will start at 8:20 p.m. Eastern and will be available exclusively on NFL Network. Games will air weekly through Week 15 at 8:20 p.m. Eastern, with the exception of the three-game Thanksgiving slate. Those begin at 12:30, 4:30, and 8:20 p.m. Eastern, on FOX, CBS and NBC, respectively.
How to stream Thursday Night Football?
TNF can be streamed live on NFL Network, FOX Sports Go, Amazon Prime and Twitch. NFL Network and FOX can also be streamed through services such as Roku, PS4 and Xbox One.
What is the highest-scoring Thursday Night Football game ever?
The Los Angeles Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers 41-39 in Week 3 of the 2017 campaign in the highest-scoring TNF game of all time.
Who are the TNF announcers?
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will return for a second year at the helm of TNF. Mike Joy will cover for Buck during the MLB Playoffs. Mike Pereira serves as the rules analyst with Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink working the sidelines. The same broadcast airs on FOX, NFL Network and Amazon.
Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer made history last year as the first all-woman NFL broadcast team as an alternate stream for Amazon Prime viewers.
Who was the original Thursday Night Football broadcast crew?
The original TNF broadcast crew for NFL Network in 2006 was Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth.
Retired Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo memorably joined Jim Nantz for CBS’ final year of TNF coverage in 2017.
Who sings the Thursday Night Football theme song?
FOX and NFL Network air their own instrumental themes to begin the coverage, unlike the SNF and MNF primetime spots.