The Cleveland Browns started the season 0-14, however there is a chance that they might finish the year with two straight wins. After winning last weekend against the San Diego Chargers, to improve to 1-14 the Browns might be a team playing for a bit more pride than the other non-contenders for the playoffs in Week 17. At underdog odds, they just might be worth taking straight-up or at least with handicap helpers.

Tomlin hints at sitting key players

Before looking at betting odds an interesting point to consider in the markets for the Browns and Steelers is that Pittsburgh coaching have hinted that their best players may not be appearing in the game.

Marc Sessler, writing at NFL.com on December 28th, referenced that point in his article titled "Big Ben, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown could sit Sunday." According to Sessler "With his team locked into the AFC's No. 3 seed" head coach Mike Tomlin "said that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le'Veon Bell, wideout Antonio Brown and center Maurkice Pouncey" may see their action limited in order to ensure that they are "preserved" for the Wild Card stage the following week.

The limited action will hurt the season stats for the players involved, however the big-picture is more important. The Steelers appear likely to face the Miami Dolphins and they will want their starters at full fitness for the game.

I think that's especially the case with Le'Veon Bell as the running back's darting moves may prove too much for Miami's weak anti-rush defense.

Betting odds and recommendation

Pittsburgh are coming in as strong favorites, priced at -275 with Coral sportsbook. The Browns, on the other hand, are priced at +220 with William Hill, odds that have to be considered flirty.

The handicap for the game has Cleveland getting a 5.5-point lead at odds of -105 with bet365.

If Pittsburgh plays back-ups, that doesn't mean that Cleveland will just automatically win. Taking a 1-14 team straight-up requires longer odds than what is offered. However, I don't mind the handicap as part of a parlay and my recommendation would be to build a double with the Dolphins at +9.5 versus the New England Patriots (bet365 @ -105).

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