Monday Night Football Predictions Week 17: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Last week’s Monday night football game could have been solid if it weren’t for the fact that the Saints were starting their fourth-string quarterback, Ian Book. Book, a product of Notre Dame, had to make the emergency start as Taysom Hill missed the game through COVID protocols. Book’s inexperience was evident, and the Saints managed to put up just three measly points. And with the loss, their playoff chances went out the window. Their opponent, the Miami Dolphins, benefitted greatly from this situation as they were able to win their seventh straight game and are now holding onto the final wild card spot in the AFC. This week, we will have two teams out of the playoff picture square off as the Cleveland Browns head to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As of writing this, the Browns are currently 3-point favorites with the total set at 41. This line opened at Pittsburgh -1.5 but has quickly been bet the other way, and with good reason. The Steelers essentially threw in the towel last week as they were obliterated 36-10 by the Chiefs. The Browns should have beaten the Packers if it weren’t for Mayfield’s four interceptions. That’s left the Browns on playoff life support, but I still believe they are the better team in this matchup.
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Storylines to follow
One Last Hoorah: This is probably it. The is likely the final game for Ben Roethlisberger at Heinz Field. He’s come out publicly and alluded to it, so there isn’t much speculation about “will he or won’t he?”. Do you think for one second, despite how terrible this season has been for the Steelers, the city of Pittsburgh and his entire roster won’t play their asses off for the leader of this team? I have been baffled all year long at how the Steelers win football games. They are not very good on offense (no real talent), and they’ve relied on their defense to steal a few games this season. However, with Cleveland coming into town deflated and with no real purpose for this contest -- their playoff hopes are all but done -- I can’t see the Steelers dropping this prime-time game, at home, to a division foe. These two teams already hooked up once in October, and that was a 15-10 Steelers win. However, remember what happened the last time Cleveland came to town? It was the wild card beatdown in last year’s playoffs. Pittsburgh will not let that happen again, and they will not let Ben suffer a defeat in his last game at Heinz Field, against a team he’s absolutely owned throughout his career.
Wounded Dawgs: The Cleveland Browns were this year’s “sexy pick” to make some noise in the postseason. They have an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball, and Baker Mayfield was supposed to take his game to the next level and lead the team to the promised land. Well, the season started off in promising fashion, going 3-1 through their first four games before losing the next two. They were dealt a few bad breaks over the last few weeks with COVID and injury issues, so perhaps maybe this season can be forgiven. However, the head coach has come out and said that next year there will be an open competition for the starting quarterback job. I’m not sure whether that’s a positive or a negative thing given the state of the QB room (they don’t have any depth) and the fragility of Mayfield’s ego and confidence. Either way, it’s going to be a long offseason for the Dawg Pound. And with their playoff hopes all but dashed, I don’t think they’ll get up for this game when they got the Bengals on deck at home to finish out the season.
Angles and Trends:
If you like Steelers and are going to take the points, you are banking on the following:
- Steelers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS loss
- Steelers are 18-6-2 ATS in their last 26 games as a home underdog
- Steelers are 33-16-2 ATS in their last 51 games as an underdog
- Steelers are 5-1 ATS in the last 5 head-to-head meetings
- Underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 head-to-head meetings
- Browns are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite
- Browns are 2-7 in their last 9 games as a road favorite
If you like the Brows and want to lay the points, these trends are for you:
- Browns are 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 January games.
- Steelers are 0-6 ATS vs a team with a losing record
- Steelers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games vs a team with a losing road record
- Steelers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Monday Games
- Steelers are 1-3-1 Ats in their last 5 Week 17 games.
If you are thinking about betting the total, these are the important trends to know:
- Under is 5-0 in Browns last 5 games vs a team with a losing record
- Under is 5-2 in Browns last 7 games as a favorite
- Under is 4-1 in Steelers last 5 home games
- Under is 38-16-1 in Steelers last 55 vs a team with a losing record
We found the win column once again last week with the Dolphins easily covering the spread. That now gives us a 9-6 record on the season (no plays in Week 1) for a small profit of +240. I expect to finish up the year with two straight wins so we can reach the +440 mark based on a one-unit ($110 to win $100) wager. This week, we are taking our chances on a prime-time home underdog that has a very important purpose this week that’s not specifically tied into making the playoffs. Emotions are a very powerful thing in sports. And with Big Ben announcing his impending retirement, the Steelers will go all out to make sure that the last time Ben steps on Heinz Field, he will leave it with a win.
Pick: Pittsburgh +3
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