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

Hello, it’s me, Tom Fornelli, and after being away for the last week, it’s good to be back in your inbox. Also, it felt good to walk the dog this morning because not only is today the first official day of fall, but where I live, the weather cooperated. After weeks of humid, 80 degree days, when I went outside with the dog this morning it was mostly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 50’s. There was a strong breeze and it smelled like fall.

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

Give me autumn 365 days a year. Oh, and give me those stories too. Honestly, I’ve been missing so much of the sports world this past week that I’ve been reading a lot to catch myself up.

Okay, let’s make some money

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

πŸ”₯ The Hot Ticket

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

  • Basic trend: The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
  • The Pick: Under 38 (-115)

Keeping things simple last Thursday worked out well for us and I’m not changing the formula this week. None of these teams have shown us much offensively. The Steelers were particularly anemic, ranking 28th in the league in offensive success rate and 26th in points per drive. I don’t expect Mitch Trubisky and company to figure things out tonight against a Cleveland defense that has been great to start the year. Especially with a woeful offensive line.

The Browns’ offense has been better than Pittsburgh’s and ranks sixth in the league in points per drive, but that’s a number that will likely decrease if it doesn’t improve from the bottom up. Their 42.4% offensive success rate ranks just 16th, and they’ve struggled to finish drives, scoring touchdowns on 55.6% of their red-zone possessions.

Another factor is how the clock ticks when the Browns have the ball. They string together long drives while running 54.7% of the time, which is the third-highest percentage in the league. In other words, Pittsburgh’s offense can’t score and Cleveland’s offense never lets the clock run out. Throw these two forces against solid defenses (both top 10 in pass percentage) and we’re not likely to see a penalty tonight.

Here’s what SportsLine has to say about the game: SportsLine’s Emory Hunt is 11-3 in his last 14 picks with the Cleveland Browns and has one game in the spread going into tonight’s game.

πŸ’°The Options


🏈 One more for the Steelers at the Browns

The Pick: Nick Chubb Anytime TD (-145) — It’s a heavy price to pay, but as I mentioned, Cleveland’s offense is one of the top-heavy in the league. With Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and the Browns favored, I don’t foresee that changing much tonight. This only increases the chances of Nick Chubb getting some red tape and touchdowns. While he hasn’t had much success against Pittsburgh in his career (he’s averaging just 4.37 yards per attempt and has scored one touchdown in seven career games), I like his chances of succeeding tonight.

The Browns have already scored three rushing touchdowns in the red zone this season and broken six tackles. Their 3.57 yards per carry in the red zone is the fourth best mark in the league. We could be flattered by Kareem Hunt, but I think this price on Chubb’s scoring is friendly.

Basic Voltage: Cleveland has notched three red zone championships already this season.

🏈 College Football

West Virginia at Virginia Tech, 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 50.5 (-110) —
West Virginia scores 46 points per game, but trust me when I tell you that’s deceptive. First, the Mountaineers scored 65 points against Towson. Through two games against Pitt and Kansas, the Mountaineers are averaging 36.5 points per game. That’s still pretty good, but Kansas’ defense was pretty bad, and Pitt’s defense didn’t look good, either. This Virginia Tech defense will be the best West Virginia has seen. He ranks 9th in the nation in passing percentage, 13th in points allowed per drive and 10th in EPA per game. It’s good.

What isn’t so good is Virginia Tech’s offense. If I had to use adjectives to describe it, I would say “depressing” or maybe even “disgusting”. He ranks 100th in passing percentage, 116th in passing percentage and 95th in EPA per game. The total reported for tonight’s game gives a little too much credit to West Virginia’s offensive performance against bad defenses. We take it down as long as the total is over 49.

Basic Voltage: The under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings.

πŸ”’ SportsLine Pick of the Day: There’s more college football tonight and SportsLine’s Micah Roberts plays in the game between Illinois and Chattanooga.

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