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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Point Spread - Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-6 SU, 2-6-1 ATS)
Week 11 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday Night Football, November 14, 2019 at 8:20PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Fox/NFL

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: PIT +2.5/CLE -2.5
Over/Under Total: 40.5

On Thursday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns in an AFC North battle. This is the first meeting of the season between these division rivals and a lot more was expected from this matchup. Cleveland, however, showed some signs of life with a nice 19-16 win over Buffalo on Sunday, when a Bills FG sailed wide with time running out. A much needed positive development after a four-game losing streak, the Browns are now hoping to do what the Steelers did before and that's go on another run. The Steelers added another pillar to their remarkable about-face, now sitting at 5-4 on the heels of their fourth straight win, a 17-12 win over the Rams. They now look to do some damage in their own division. Who comes out ahead on Thursday?

A win over the Bills, while nice, doesn't wipe clean the slate. The Browns, for the most part, have been a resounding disappointment, with a supposed contender entering week 11 at 3-6 with little margin for error moving forward. The problems have been multifold. The offense, despite ample artillery and the addition of some high-profile pieces, has been fairly pedestrian so far, a definite bottom-half unit. The defense has some things to like about it, but has also been below-average from an overall standpoint. After seeing a well-managed game from Baker Mayfield, over 100 yards from Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry leading the way aerially, and a stout defense against the run, maybe there is some hope moving into the second half of the season.

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Mayfield at least helped keep mistakes to a minimum on Sunday and managed to take what he can get. He connected well with his receivers, while feeding the rock to a guy who could really be key in making a run with Chubb. We saw the return of Kareem Hunt on Sunday and while a bit of a forgotten man, he could be key to his offense and showed fire with 30 yards on four carries, along with seven receptions. Against a good Buffalo defense, we saw Cleveland making some big plays and just with a greater sense of urgency. Whereas they failed in the role of frontrunners early in the season, maybe they can thrive in the role of heavily-criticized underdogs trying to make up ground with a chip on their shoulder.

From a playmaking standpoint, the Cleveland defense was a bit quiet on Sunday, with just one sack and no turnovers. But more importantly, they were able to play stout "D" Suffering massively against the run, they kept a Bills' run-game in check for most of the day. Big plays through the air were kept to a minimum. Sheldon Richardson was robust in the interior. Joe Schobert was active in the middle. In the secondary, Morgan Burnett and Damarious Randall made a lot of plays. Not having Olivier Vernon hurt the pass-rush and Myles Garrett went his second game without a sack.

The Steelers depended on their defense on Sunday and have been doing more of that in recent weeks, while looking for progress on offense. QB Mason Rudolph had his best game of the season on Sunday, throwing for 242 yards, but more importantly, helping manage the offense, not making mistakes, and helping push through a positive offensive effort. They're missing a lot and on Sunday, played without James Conner and with a gimpy JuJu Smith Schuster. To be playing a second-string QB, along with so many missing and compromised pieces, yet still being able to beat a contender in the Rams shows how far this team has come. It wasn't that along ago when the Steelers were 1-4 and appeared to be nosediving. Now they're a team with a future and look the part of a rising football team. Still, they're going to need some offense in this game. Getting Conner back would be big and we'll watch his progress leading up to game-time.

The "D" has been the name of the game for Pittsburgh. And as we saw on Sunday, they are stout, with a big-game component that has really gone a long way during this latest spurt. The trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick has been huge and on Sunday, he recovered a fumble and returned it for a TD, while also recording another pick as the Rams attempted a late rally. Trey Edmunds and Joe Haden also had picks on the day. TJ Watt delivered on two sacks, with Cameron Heyward and Javon Hargrave also getting to the quarterback. Every week, they're getting better. They have difference-makers on this side of the ball and they have been showing a lot of fire. You can see they're having fun out there and despite being hung out to dry on occasion by the other side of the ball, they have been among the best units in the conference in recent weeks.

This is a tough one to call. Something tells me the Browns are going to be dangerous for the rest of the season. I just see the Steelers as being all wrong for them right now. Offensive signs were positive from Cleveland, but against this "D," this could be another spot where we see the Browns struggling to hit their top-gear. The same could apply to Pittsburgh. But I think they're more-suited for a grind-'em-out game where the points might be hard to come by. I'm taking the Steelers.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers plus 2.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Steelers vs. Browns Thursday Night Football game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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