Steelers vs. Browns: Wild Card Playoff Round NFL Betting Preview – January 10, 2021

Posted By Staff on January 10, 2021

The AFC Wild Card round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs features the Cleveland Browns (11-5), who are underdogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) on January 10, 2021 at 8:15 PM ET on NBC. The game has an over/under of .

The game marks the 139th meeting between the teams in a series the Steelers lead 77-60-1. The most recent game between the teams just unfolded in Week 17 of this season, when Cleveland recorded a 24-22 win at FirstEnergy Stadium.

In that contest, Nick Chubb rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 14 rushes, while Baker Mayfield threw for 196 yards and another score. Meanwhile, Mason Rudolph, who started for a resting Ben Roethlisberger, threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns with one interception while JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson combined for 11 receptions, 166 yards and a pair of scores.

The betting insights in this article reflect betting data from DraftKings as of January 5, 2021, 1:41 AM ET. See table below for current betting odds and CLICK HERE to bet at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Steelers vs Browns Betting Odds

Steelers vs Browns Props

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Betting breakdown

The two teams had considerably different experiences over the latter portion of the regular season. The visiting Browns seemed to increasingly gel, going 6-2. What’s more, the two losses were near misses. The first was a wild 47-42 overtime defeat at the hands of the Ravens, while the second was a 23-16 stumble against the Jets in which Cleveland was forced to play without its top four receivers due to COVID-19 protocols.

In turn, the Steelers dropped four of their last five games, although the aforementioned Week 17 defeat to the Browns saw Pittsburgh rest multiple key players. However, Mike Tomlin’s squad often looked incompetent on offense even when at full strength, with an almost complete lack of a running game and a bad case of drops among the pass-catching corps largely to blame.

However, a major development on the Browns that unfolded Tuesday has caused major movement in the line Tuesday. What opened as a 4-point projected advantage for Pittsburgh had grown to 6.0 by Tuesday afternoon after it was revealed that five members of Cleveland’s coaching staff and roster, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, tested positive for COVID-19 are will therefore not be available for Sunday night’s game. Additionally, the team was forced to close its facility Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. With all of those developments clearly less than ideal for a team prepping for a playoff game, the Steelers are unsurprisingly gaining momentum with the betting public.

The projected total has been a lot more stable and immune from the latest news as of Tuesday afternoon. After opening at 47.5, it quickly bumped down a point to 46.5 but it quickly rose back to 47.0 points. With the two regular-season games between the teams finishing at 46 and 45 points, the current number certainly implies a repeat of recent history.

Betting trends

The Browns were 6-10 (37.5 percent) against the spread this season, including 3-5 (37.5 percent) as a road team and 0-6 in division matchups. Then, the Over was 9-7 (56.2 percent) in Cleveland’s games this season, including 4-4 in its road games and 4-2 (66.7 percent) in its division matchups.

The Steelers were 10-6 (62.5 percent) against the spread this season, including 5-3 (62.5 percent) as a home team and 4-2 (66.7 percent) in AFC North matchups. Then, the Over was 7-7-2 in Pittsburgh’s games this season, including 4-3-1 (57.1 percent) in its games as a home team and 3-2-1 (60.0 percent) against AFC North opponents.

Browns vs. Steelers matchup

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Browns’ COVID-19 outbreak has only ensnared receiver KhaDarel Hodge as far as Cleveland’s skill position players. If that indeed proves to be the extent of the impact on the offense, the Browns still have to deal with the fact Stefanski, the architect of an offense that averaged 25.5 points and 369.9 yards per game, won’t be on the sideline. Not having the full brain trust available is especially daunting when considering the Steelers defense was one of the best in the league despite suffering the key losses of linebackers Devin Bush and Bud Dupree to torn ACLs.

Pittsburgh finished the season surrendering the third-fewest passing yards per game (194.4). The Steelers’ 56 sacks also led the league, while their 18 interceptions tied multiple teams for tops in the NFL as well. Mayfield did an excellent job cutting down his turnovers this past season, going from 2019’s career-high 21 picks to a career-low eight. He also seemed to thrive after the loss of star receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. While that’s admittedly a bit paradoxical, it’s hard to find fault with the 2,171 passing yards and 11:1 TD:INT that Mayfield generated over the nine full games he’s played without his No. 1 wideout. However, it does bear mentioning the third-year signal-caller’s track record against Pittsburgh hasn’t been the greatest. Even in a 2020 season where Cleveland split the two games with their division rivals, Mayfield threw for just 315 combined  yards and a 2:2 TD:INT.

Of course, the Browns would love to lean on the run as much as possible thanks to their impressive Chubb-Kareem Hunt backfield duo, as well as the fact they would still like to insulate themselves from Mayfield’s occasional glitches as much as possible. The good news for this approach is that the matchup versus Pittsburgh’s front seven isn’t as daunting as earlier in the season. The Steelers slipped to allowing 111.4 rushing yards per game by season’s end, thanks in large part to giving up an atypically high 157.0 per contest over the last three. Chubb has largely proven matchup-proof as well, and there’s little doubt he’ll see another heavy workload as long as game script allows.

Meanwhile, the Steelers set up well in terms of what they want to do on offense and what the Browns tend to be susceptible to. Pittsburgh essentially gave up on the run as the season went on. The Steelers finished the campaign with the NFL’s second-lowest rush play percentage (35.76 percent). They likely won’t need too many stuffed runs to shift heavily toward the pass against Cleveland – the Browns surrendered just 101.6 rushing yards per road game.

Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the Browns secondary was a completely different story. As Rudolph demonstrated Week 17, Cleveland can be exposed through the air. The Browns finished the regular season allowing 288.2 passing yards and 7.7 yards per attempt per road game. The Steelers were also the best in the league at protecting the QB (NFL-low 2.7 percent adjusted sack rate and 14 sacks allowed), which should help Roethlisberger plenty of time to scan the field for the likes of Johnson, Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool.

Betting the Total (Over/Under)

  • The over/under in this game is 46.5 points, 1.0 higher than the average total in Steelers games this season.
  • The average total for Browns games is 51.7 points, 5.2 more than this game’s over/under.
  • Pittsburgh and its opponents have combined to score more than 46.5 in six games (37.5% of matchups).
  • In eight (50%) games this season, the Browns have combined with their opponents to go over 46.5 points.
  • The total for this matchup is 46.5 points, 5.0 fewer than the combined scoring average of the two teams.
  • The Steelers score the 12th-most points in the league this season, while the Browns’ offense racks up the 14th-most.
  • The over/under for this game is set at 46.5 points, 0.8 points higher than the two teams’ opponents scoring average.
  • Pittsburgh is the league’s third-ranked scoring defense while Cleveland is the 21st-ranked.
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Steelers Betting Insights

  • Pittsburgh has put together a 10-6 record against the spread this season.
  • The Steelers are just 4-5 ATS when favored by at least 4.5 points.
  • Most of Pittsburgh’s games this year — nine out of 16 — have hit the over (56.2%).

Browns Betting Insights

  • Cleveland has compiled a losing 6-10 record against the spread this season.
  • The Browns have a losing ATS record of 2-5 when playing as at least 4.5-point underdogs.
  • 9 of Cleveland’s 16 games this year have gone over the point total (56.2% of its outings).

Steelers vs Browns: Head to Head

Steelers vs Browns: Last 4 Meetings
Date Favorite Home Team Spread Total Favorite Moneyline Underdog Moneyline Total Yards Result
1/3/2021 Browns Browns -10 44.50 -480 +380 394-358 PIT 24-22 CLE
10/18/2020 Steelers Steelers -3 50.00 -175 +150 277-220 PIT 38-7 PIT
12/1/2019 Browns Steelers -1 40 -120 +105 323-279 PIT 20-13 PIT
11/14/2019 Browns Browns -3 41.5 -152 +133 293-236 CLE 21-7 CLE

Check out TheLines YouTube channel to learn more about betting tips and picks for this week’s NFL action.

When the Steelers Have the Ball

  • The Steelers average points scored this season (26) and the Browns points allowed (26.2) are within 0.2 points of each other.
  • When they meet or exceed their scoring average this season, Pittsburgh is 10-0 and 9-1 against the spread.
  • Cleveland is 7-2 overall and 4-5 against the spread this season in games where they allow fewer than 26.2 points.
  • The Steelers offense has averaged 334.6 total yards per game this season, 23.6 yards fewer than the 358.2 allowed by the Browns defense. The Steelers average 5.1 yards per play while the Browns allow 5.5 per play.
  • When the Pittsburgh offense puts together a game with at least their 2020 average in yardage, they are 9-1 overall and 8-2 against the spread this season.
  • When Cleveland allows fewer total yards to opposing offenses than their season average, they are 4-5 against the spread and 6-3 overall this season.
  • The Browns defense has given up an average of 110.5 yards per game to opposing running games this season. That is 26.2 more yards than the Steelers have gained running the football in 2020 (84.3).
  • When Pittsburgh rushers gain at least a combined 84.3 yards this season, they are 7-2 overall and 7-2 against the spread.
  • This season, when the Cleveland defense allows opponents to pick up less than 110.5 yards on the ground, they are 6-5 against the spread and 10-1 overall.
  • This season, the Browns have forced an average of 1.3 turnovers per game compared to the 1.1 times Steelers have turned the football over in each contest.
  • In games where they turn the football over 1.1 times or fewer this season, Pittsburgh is 9-2 overall and 9-2 against the spread.
  • Cleveland is 5-1 against the spread and 6-0 overall this season when they force at least 1.3 turnovers in a game.

When the Browns Have the Ball

  • The Browns average six more points per game (25.5) than the Steelers give up (19.5).
  • When Cleveland scores at least 25.5 points, it is 4-4 against the spread and 7-1 overall.
  • Pittsburgh has a 9-1 record against the spread and a 10-0 record overall in games when it allows opponents to score 26 points or less.
  • The Browns collect 63.8 more yards per game (369.6), than the Steelers allow per matchup (305.8). The Browns average 5.8 yards per play, while the Steelers allow 4.9 per play.
  • Pittsburgh’s record last season when they racked up at least their season average in total yards: 4-1 overall and 2-2-1 ATS.
  • In games Pittsburgh holds its opponents to 305.8 or fewer yards, it has a 5-2 record ATS and a 6-1 record overall.
  • This season, the Browns run for 37 more yards per game (148.4) than the Steelers allow per contest (111.4).
  • When Cleveland rushes for at least 148.4 yards, it had a 2-4 ATS record and a 6-0 overall record.
  • This season, Pittsburgh is 6-3 against the spread and 7-2 overall when holding opponents to no more than 111.4 yards on the ground.
  • This year, the Browns turn the ball over one time per game, only 0.7 fewer turnovers per game than the 1.7 the Steelers force on average.
  • Cleveland has a 5-7 record against the spread and a 10-2 record overall when it turns the ball over 1 time or less.
  • When it forces 1.7 or more turnovers, Pittsburgh has a 7-4 record against the spread and a 10-1 record overall.

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Steelers Players to Watch

  • Mason Rudolph leads the team with 324 passing yards (64.8 yards per game) and has a 58.1% completion percentage this year (25-of-43) while throwing two touchdowns and one interception in five games.
  • James Conner has rushed for a team-leading 720 yards on 169 attempts (48.0 yards per game) while scoring six touchdowns in 15 games.
  • In 16 games in 2020, Benny Snell Jr. has rushed for 368 yards on 111 carries (23.0 ypg), with four rushing touchdowns.
  • This season, Diontae Johnson has 88 catches (on 144 targets) to lead the team with 924 yards (61.6 per game) with seven touchdowns in 15 games.
  • Chase Claypool’s statline this year shows 62 catches for 873 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 games. He puts up 54.6 receiving yards per game and has been targeted 109 times.
  • Over 16 games in 2020, JuJu Smith-Schuster has caught 97 passes on 128 targets for 831 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 51.9 receiving yards per game.
  • Stephon Tuitt has 11.0 sacks to lead the team, and has also collected 10.0 TFL and 46 tackles over 16 games.
  • Avery Williamson has collected 111 tackles, 3.0 TFL, one sack, and one interception to lead the team in tackles so far in 15 games over the course of the 2020 campaign.
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick has a team-high four interceptions and has tacked on 80 tackles, 1.0 TFL, and 11 passes defended 16 in games this season.

Browns Players to Watch

  • This year, Baker Mayfield has put up 3,563 passing yards (222.7 yards per game) while going 305-for-486 (62.8% completion percentage) and throwing 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 16 games. He has added a 165 rushing yards on 54 carries with one touchdown, averaging 10.3 yards per game.
  • Nick Chubb has taken 190 carries for a team-leading 1,067 rushing yards (88.9 yards per game) while scoring 12 touchdowns in 12 games.
  • Kareem Hunt leads the team with 841 rushing yards on 198 carries (52.6 yards per game), with six touchdowns on the ground over the course of 16 games in 2020. He also has 38 catches for 304 yards (19.0 per game) and five touchdowns.
  • This season, Jarvis Landry has 72 catches (on 101 targets) to lead the team with 840 yards (52.5 per game) with three touchdowns in 16 games.
  • Rashard Higgins has also chipped in with 37 catches for 599 yards and four touchdowns over 14 games this year. He has been targeted 52 times and puts up 42.8 receiving yards per game.
  • Austin Hooper has totaled 435 yards on 46 passes with four touchdowns in 2020, averaging 33.5 yards per game on 70 targets in 13 contests.
  • Myles Garrett has 12.0 sacks to lead the team, and has also racked up 10.0 TFL and 48 tackles over 16 games.
  • In 14 games over the 2020 campaign, Karl Joseph has racked up 64 tackles, 2.0 TFL, and one interception and leads the team in tackles.
  • M.J. Stewart has a team-high two interceptions and has tacked on 17 tackles, 2.0 TFL, one sack, and three passes defended 15 in games this season.

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