The Steelers head into Cleveland as underdogs against the Browns on Thursday Night Football in what will give the winner a leg up in the AFC North standings, with a FanDuel special promotion available to new customers placing a wager.
FanDuel, the most popular PA sportsbook among Pennsylvanians since its launch in 2019, makes Pittsburgh a 3.5-point underdog in the game, with reduced vig of -104 to take the Steelers. Browns bettors at that number have to tolerate a price of -118.
The sportsbook sets the Steelers moneyline at +168, with Cleveland at -200. The over/under is 38.5, a low one by NFL standards in recognition of two teams whose defenses are generally considered stronger than their offensive abilities — particularly on the Steelers’ side.
FanDuel Bet $1, Win $100 special offer
Penn Bets has an exclusive special offer with FanDuel that offers new bettors the chance to bet just $1 and get $100 in free bets. The free bets will be credited to the first-time customer’s account regardless of the outcome of their wager, and the original wager can be placed on Steelers-Browns or any other sporting event this week.
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However, the promotion is only valid through this Sunday, Sept. 25. Here’s how to access it: After registering through one of our links, an initial deposit of $10 is required to qualify for the Bet $1, Get $100 Free offer. After placing your $1 bet, your free $100 in “promotional bonus” bets will be credited to your account within 72 hours. No FanDuel Sportsbook promo code is required.
Note that when using free bets on FanDuel Sportsbook, you will only get the winnings back if your wager wins. For example, a $50 free bet at +100 odds would only return $50 cash (the profit) in the event of a win, not $100 ($50 original stake + $50 in winnings).
In addition, for Thursday Night Football FanDuel is offering a “No Sweat Same Game Parlay,” in which a bettor can assemble three legs with collective odds of +400 or longer for a parlay and get an equivalent amount in free bets (up to $100) if it loses.
Both teams looking to rebound
Both Pittsburgh and Cleveland lost their second games of the season Sunday — but in strikingly different fashion — after winning their openers.
The Steelers watched the New England Patriots offense run out the clock over the final six minutes and take kneel-downs at the end of a 17-14 loss at home by Pittsburgh.
The Browns, in their own home loss, were up by 13 points with two minutes left, only to suffer a stunning 31-30 defeat. It was the second straight game in which Cleveland gave up 17 fourth quarter points.
The teams are tied with the Baltimore Ravens at 1-1 in the AFC North, with the surprisingly disappointing Cincinnati Bengals trailing all three at 0-2. Neither Pittsburgh nor Cleveland is supposed to win the division — especially with Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson suspended for 11 games and Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt sidelined by injury for more than a month — but Thursday night’s winner will sit alone in first place. FanDuel’s odds are +360 on Cleveland to be in that position at year’s end, +700 on Pittsburgh.
Look for closeness, not explosiveness
While the Steelers’ usually strong defense is missing a key piece in Watt, the somnolent offense is the main concern in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have scored just 37 points in two games, with the offense itself responsible for only two touchdowns.
New quarterback Mitch Trubisky is obviously the focus of discontent, with rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett waiting in the wings, although play-calling from the Steelers sideline has also been sharply criticized. In two games, Trubisky’s completed 42 of 71 passes for 362 yards, two TDs, and one interception, with very little intent to throw the ball far downfield. FanDuel has set the over/under on his passing yards Thursday at 191.5.
Much criticism has been applied to the Steelers’ overhauled offensive line as well, with Najee Harris gaining just 72 yards on 28 carries this year despite being one of the league’s most acclaimed rookies in 2021. His over/under for rushing yards is 54.5, with -120 to bet the over, -106 on the under.
While the Browns have their own quarterback issues considering Watson’s suspension, Jacoby Brissett actually played well against the Jets, completing 22 of 27 passes for 229 yards. With Pittsburgh’s defense deemed stronger than New York’s, FanDuel has his yardage o/u at 181.5, with -106 on the over, -120 on the under.
It is the running game, however, at which Cleveland has excelled in recent years, with no sign of that changing in 2022. Nick Chubb rushed for three TDs on his 87 yards against New York, which followed a 141-yard performance in the win over Carolina. His yardage o/u Thursday is 84.5 at FanDuel, and Chubb has one of the best backfield accomplices in the league in Kareem Hunt to spell him.
Putting the two teams together, with the close games they’ve had so far (neither team has won or lost by more than 3 points), it may not make for the most explosive football NFL fans can hope for, but the outcome could be riveting to the end.
The Steelers are 11-3-1 in the last 15 meetings of the teams, but those were in the Ben Roethlisberger era, when the Browns were rarely favored the way they are this time.
Photo: Philip Pavely/USA TODAY