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Browns vs. Steelers prediction: Bet low on paltry total between AFC North rivals

Pittsburgh owns one of the worst offenses in the NFL, while Cleveland faces a tough matchup of its own in Thursday’s divisional clash.

Mitch Trubisky of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the second half in the game against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Mitch Trubisky of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the second half in the game against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)Read moreJoe Sargent / Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger won’t be walking through that door when the Steelers face the Browns for the first time this season. Neither will Baker Mayfield, nor Deshaun Watson. Instead, it’ll be Mitch Trubisky vs. Jacoby Brissett in a game that feels destined for Thursday night.

It should come as no surprise to see this game with the lowest total of the week after how these two offenses have looked through the first two games of the season. That’s particularly true for Pittsburgh, which enters this one as a short road underdog after a pair of uninspiring performances.

Here’s how we’re betting Thursday night’s contest, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.

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Browns vs. Steelers Prediction

  1. Under 38.5 (-110 BetMGM)

Browns vs. Steelers Prediction: The Analysis

Before breaking down either of these two teams, let’s first acknowledge just how little faith oddsmakers are placing in either offense to get anything done Thursday. Usually, that’s a great sign for under bettors.

Since the start of the 2020 season, games with a total under 39 points are a stellar 7-1 to the under, and would have been a perfect 8-0 if not for a 30-point quarter between the Browns and Jets in last week’s bizarre finish. That makes sense from a betting perspective: books can only hang so low of a number before sharps punish them on the other side. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still worth betting low on these two offenses.

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I’m especially pessimistic about this Steelers attack, which already looks like one of the worst units in the league led by Trubisky and maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Pittsburgh’s offense ranked in the top four in yards every year from 2014-18, except for Canada’s brief stint as the OC in 2016, and fittingly this group has tumbled to the NFL’s offensive basement in his return to the role.

Through the first two weeks of the season, the Steelers rank 30th in yards per game (255), 31st in punts per drive (.545) and three-and-outs per drive (.364), and dead last in yards per drive (22.4). The only saving grace for this offense, ironically, has been its defense, which has scored half as many touchdowns (1) as this lifeless offense (2) ahead of Thursday’s contest.

That opportunistic defense could pose an issue for Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who threw an uncharacteristic pick to seal last week’s loss to the Jets and is battling an ankle injury that he suffered late in that contest. He’ll be aided by the return of ailing right tackle Jack Conklin (knee), who missed the first two games of the season. But Brissett has yet to complete a pass longer than 30 yards this year and has clearly struggled to elevate the talent around him.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

That’s the case for Pittsburgh’s offense, too. Trubisky has been as mediocre in his return to being a starter as he was in his days in Chicago, and running back Najee Harris hasn’t done much to help as he fights through a lingering foot/ankle injury that has held him back since training camp. Both are fighting an uphill battle behind this offensive line, which struggled to keep pace even against the Patriots’ substandard defensive front.

These two teams have gone under in 18 of their last 31 meetings, including each of their two matchups in 2021, and this one has all the makings for another slugfest in prime time. The last four Thursday contests between these two have averaged a mere 24.5 points combined, so don’t be surprised if this one falls well below the betting total.

Browns vs. Steelers Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Browns -4.5 (-105), moneyline -200

  2. Steelers +4.5 (-115), moneyline +165

  3. O/U 38.5 (-110)

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.