Don’t expect a shootout between Steelers and Browns, plus other best bets for Thursday


Hi, it’s me, Tom Fornelli, and after being away for the past week, it feels good to be back in your inbox. It also felt good to walk the dog this morning because not only is today the first official fall day, but where I live the weather cooperated. After weeks of humid 80 degree days when I stepped out with the dog this morning it was mostly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 50’s. There was a brisk breeze and the smell of autumn.

It was glorious. Autumn is my peak season. You have the best sports and the best weather. I’ll hear an argument for spring, but that’s all. If you’re here trying to argue for summer or winter, you’re either still in school (summer) or antisocial (winter).

Give me fall 365 days a year. Oh, and give me these stories too. Honestly, I’ve missed so much in the sports world in the past week that I have a lot to read to catch up on.

Okay let’s make some money

All times East, and all opportunities through Caesars Sportsbook

🔥The Hot Ticket

Steelers at Browns, 8:15 p.m. | TV: Amazon

Last Chances:

Under 38

  • Main trend: The under is 5-2 in the last seven encounters.
  • The choice: under 38 (-115)

Keeping things simple last Thursday worked well for us, and I’m not changing the formula this week. Neither team showed us much offensively. The Steelers were particularly anemic, ranking 28th in league in offensive success rate and 26th in points per ride. I don’t expect Mitch Trubisky and his company to figure things out tonight against a Cleveland defense that was excellent to start the year. Especially with a sad front line.

The Browns’ offense was better than Pittsburgh’s and ranks sixth in the league in points per ride, but that number is likely to drop if it doesn’t improve on a down-to-down basis. Their 42.4% offensive success rate is only 16th, and they have struggled to complete drives, scoring touchdowns on 55.6% of their possession in the red zone.

Another factor is how the clock turns when the Browns have the ball. They made long rides while riding 54.7% of the time, which is the third highest percentage in the competition. In other words, Pittsburgh’s offense can’t score, and Cleveland’s offense never stops the clock. Throw those two forces against solid defenses (both are top 10 in success rate), and we’re not likely to see a shootout tonight.

Here’s what SportsLine says about the game: SportsLine’s Emory Hunt is 11-3 in his last 14 picks involving the Cleveland Browns and he has a play on the spread in tonight’s game.

💰The Choices


🏈 Another one for Steelers at Browns

The Choice: Nick Chubb Anytime TD (-145) — It’s a high price to pay, but like I said, the Cleveland offense is one of the toughest in the league. With Jacoby Brissett as quarterback and the Browns favorite, I don’t expect much to change tonight. That only increases the chances of Nick Chubb getting a red zone and wearing a goal line. While he hasn’t had much success against Pittsburgh in his career (he averaged just 4.37 yards per try and scored one touchdown in seven career games), I love his chances of getting paid tonight.

The Browns have already scored three hasty touchdowns in the red zone and broken six tackles this season. Their 3.57 yards per carry in the red zone is the fourth best figure in the league. We could be held hostage by Kareem Hunt, but I think this price on Chubb scores is friendly.

Main trend: Cleveland has already scored three red zone rushing TDs this season.

🏈 College football

West Virginia at Virginia Tech, 7:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The choice: less than 50.5 (-110) —
West Virginia scores 46 points per game, but trust me when I tell you this is misleading. First, the Mountaineers scored 65 points against Towson. In two games against Pitt and Kansas, the Mountaineers average 36.5 points per game. That’s still pretty good, but the Kansas defense was pretty bad and the Pitt defense didn’t look great either. This Virginia Tech defense will be the best West Virginia has ever seen. It ranks 9th in the country in conversion rate, 13th in points allowed per checker and 10th in EPA per game. It is well.

What’s not nearly as good is Virginia Tech’s violation. If I were to use adjectives to describe it, I would choose ‘depressing’ or maybe even ‘horrible’. It ranks 100th in success rate, 116th in success rate and 95th in EPA per game. The total listed for tonight’s game gives a little too much credit to West Virginia’s offensive performance against poor defenses. We’ll take this under as long as the total is over 49.

Main trend: The under is 5-1-1 in the last seven encounters.

SportsLine Pick of the Day: There’s more college football tonight and SportsLine’s Micah Roberts is playing the Illinois v Chattanooga game.

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