PITTSBURGH (-14.0) 26 Cleveland 13
The Browns managed to win at Buffalo last week despite just 22 passing yards on 18 pass plays, as their +2 in turnover margin made the difference. The trade of WR Braylon Edwards apparently has made the Browns' pass attack even worse than it was before as Edwards averaged 6.3 yards on the 22 passes intended for him while the other Browns' wide receivers combine for just 5.0 ypa, which is horrible. Pittsburgh's defense is 0.5 yards per pass play better than average this season and the Steelers get All-Pro S Troy Polamalu back this week.
Pittsburgh is even better defending the run (3.7 ypr allowed to teams that would average 4.4 ypr against an average team), so the Browns don't figure to do much damage offensively in this game.
Pittsburgh's offense has been very good this season, averaging 6.1 yards per play against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team and the emergence of RB Rashard Mendenhall as the starter the last two weeks (242 yards at 5.5 ypr) has made them even better. Former starter Willie Parker and his 3.1 ypr average are back this week, which actually hurts the Steelers' rushing attack if they're stupid enough to let Parker cut into Mendenhall's work load. Parker's ypr average has gone down every single year of his career from 4.7 ypr in 2005 to 4.4 ypr, to 4.1 ypr, to 3.8 ypr last season, and now 3.1 ypr.
Hopefully for Steelers' fans the coaching staff will be smart enough to put Parker out to pasture and let the young horse carry the load. If Parker plays he actually should have good success today against a Browns' defense that is horrible defending the run (5.2 ypr allowed). Cleveland has actually been better than average against the pass (5.8 yppp allowed to quarterbacks that would combine to average 6.1 yppp against an average defense) and they're only 0.2 yppl worse than average overall defensively. Still, that's not good enough to contain a good Steelers' offense.
My math model favors the Steelers by 17 points and my ratings favor Pittsburgh by 13 points, but the Steelers apply to a 28-70-2 ATS big home favorite letdown situation and the Browns spirits are high after winning last week.
I'll lean slightly with Cleveland at +14 points based on the situation.
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