Welcome to the Thursday Night Football betting breakdown, where I’ll provide a betting overview of the upcoming Thursday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. Additionally, I’ll hone in on at least one player or game prop each week that I feel has profit potential at one of those three sportsbooks.
All betting takes will be classified as either a “lean” or a “pick”. A lean is a wager that we have a certain degree of certainty in. However, it’s one that still falls somewhere short of a high-confidence selection. A pick carries an additional degree of confidence based on a variety of factors. These include relevant injuries; past track record of each team in those bet types and under the specific conditions that apply; and recent performances of each team leading up to the game.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to TNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Thursday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
A season that began with plenty of hope for the Cleveland Browns has taken a mostly ugly turn. The man heralded for last season’s offensive accomplishments, Freddie Kitchens, has often looked out of sorts and overmatched since being handed the reins of head coach. Baker Mayfield has been guilty of 13 turnovers in the form of 12 picks and one lost fumble. Odell Beckham, Jr. has proven to be a pedestrian fit in the system thus far. And the secondary has battled key injuries to Denzel Ward and Damarious Randall the majority of the season and are just now getting both players back to full speed.
Looking at the brighter side of the equation, Cleveland did snap a four-game losing streak in Week 10 with a three-point win over the Bills. Kareem Hunt was also a hit in his 2019 debut after serving a season-opening eight-game suspension. Against Buffalo, he logged 38 snaps and turned 11 touches into 74 total yards from scrimmage. His efforts complemented those of Nick Chubb perfectly, with the lead back eclipsing the century mark on the ground for the fourth time this season. The duo has a chance to be the most dangerous in the league over what remains of the season. And leaning on them heavily may well be the way to go for Kitchens on Thursday.
There’s not getting around the fact the Steelers defense is about the worst possible matchup for Mayfield. Pittsburgh’s take-no-prisoners approach on that side of the ball has led to them checking in second only to New England’s vaunted unit in total takeaways with 26. They’re also a runner-up to the defending champs in best turnover differential with a +13. That figure is partly comprised of the NFL-high 12 fumble recoveries the Black and Gold has notched. Now consider the Browns are tied with the Jets for fifth-most giveaways (17). Then, the Browns have given up 25 sacks, while the Steelers have recorded the third most (33) in the NFL. And Minkah Fitzpatrick has already snared five interceptions while patrolling the back end of the defense, while Pittsburgh has six picks overall in the last four games alone.
The challenge will be steep for Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph too, however. Rudolph is definitely making strides by the week. Yet Cleveland now has a healthy Randall, who’s overcome a recent hamstring injury. They boast a fearsome foursome in the secondary consisting of Morgan Burnett, Randall, Denzel Ward and talented rookie Greedy Williams. Given James Conner appears ready for return Thursday and the Browns are allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game (134.9), coach Mike Tomlin may also be advised to focus on attacking with the run. The fact Conner touched up this defense for 212 total yards from scrimmage when he last saw them in October 2018 doesn’t hurt, either.
TNF Point Spread
The Browns opened as three-point favorites when this came was first posted late last week. As mentioned earlier, both teams proceeded to notch close victories in Week 10. Despite Cleveland’s mistake-prone ways and Pittsburgh now boasting a four-game win streak, there’s only been a half-point reduction on the number.
The Steelers are 6-3 (66.7 percent) against the spread this season, including 2-1 (66.7 percent) as an away team.
The Browns are 2-6-1 (25.0 percent) against the spread this season, including 0-3-1 as a home team.
Although the Browns have the bigger collection of names on offense, the Steelers have proven to be a tough out over the last four contests. Conner has the ability to exploit the weaknesses in the Browns’ run defense. Therefore, I’m leaning toward a very close game and Pittsburgh keeping any loss to less than a field goal.
The Lean: Steelers +2.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook
TNF Over/Under Total
The number here is one of the smallest of the week. It reflects the offensive reality for both teams at the moment. Pittsburgh is having Rudolph do a bit more each week. Yet the majority of the passing game still consists of low-risk throws in relatively close proximity to the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, the Browns are still getting in their own way plenty with a combination of mistakes and odd play-calling. And, both defenses here are talented units.
The Over is 3-6 (33.3 percent) in the Steelers’ games this season, including 0-3 in their away games. Then, the Over is 4-5 (44.5 percent) in the Browns’ games this season, including 2-2 (50.0 percent) in their home games.
This number is a tricky one overall. It’s equally conceivable that this game finishes on either side of it. However, given Pittsburgh’s defensive prowess in particular and the especially thorny matchup they present for Mayfield, I’m leaning toward the Under in a very close call.
Best TNF Prop Bet
Any Time Touchdown Scorer: Pittsburgh D/ST (+500 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
The Steelers defense has scored touchdowns in each of the last two games. As already illustrated, Mayfield is prone to handing the ball over to the other team. The unforgiving pressure Pittsburgh figures to put on him could exacerbate his careless tendencies. While betting on a defensive touchdown is always highly speculative, the overwhelming majority of props with appealing prices like this one usually are. Due to the matchup, this is one you might consider taking a chance on.