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Best bets from awful Steelers-Browns prime-time matchup actually involve the quarterbacks

What Thursday night’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns lacks in being good, it should make up for in intrigue. Neither of these teams is so much better than the other that we don’t get a tight finish.

The Browns -3.5 are the home favorites, and they should absolutely win. But their inability to put teams away is why I’m picking Pittsburgh to cover.

The 1-1 Steelers could very easily be 0-2, but they edged the Bengals in overtime before falling to the Patriots by a field goal. The Browns are also 1-1 and could just as easily be 2-0 after spoiling a Panthers comeback in Week 1, but they couldn’t do the same against the Jets on Sunday. And so combined, these teams have a +1 margin on the season. Coming off a short week of preparation, I expect them to have another close game on Thursday.

I also lean towards the under in this game despite the small 37.5-point total. The strength of both offenses is in the rushing attacks, and that’s for different reasons. Cleveland is a legitimately good running team, leading the league with an average of 200 yards per game on the ground. Pittsburgh is not great, averaging just 83 yards per game. But you’d rather the ball in Najee Harris’ hands than with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who the Steelers should consider benching already.

Where Pittsburgh has been better than Cleveland, though, is on the defensive side of the ball, which should even things out a bit for how the offenses perform on Thursday. And it’s not like Jacoby Brissett is much better than Trubisky. These teams are likely to lean on the run and eat clock, making a low score very likely.

Finally, for all the reasons outlined above, I also like Trubisky to finish under 198.5 passing yards and Brissett to finish under 195.5. Both defenses rank in the top half of the league in pass rush win rate, and the only time one of these quarterbacks finished with more than 194 yards this season was Brissett’s 229 against an awful Jets defense.