Browns vs. Steelers: The best player prop bets for MNF
The Steelers will be fighting for their playoff lives on Monday Night Football when they welcome the Browns to Heinz Field. Cleveland (7-8) had its fate sealed over the weekend and won’t be playing in the postseason, but Pittsburgh (7-7-1) still has an outside chance if the Steelers win tonight.
The Browns have lost three of their last four games – putting an end to their playoff hopes – and lost at home to the Steelers 15-10 in Week 8. The Steelers have had mixed results of late, winning hard-fought games at home against the Ravens and the Titans, but giving up 36 points each to the Vikings and Chiefs in big road defeats.
We've examined the matchup closely, and have the three best player prop bets for MNF below.
Tue, January 4 2022, 1:15 AM
Najee Harris Over/Under 75.5 Rushing Yards
I love Najee Harris, but the offensive line around him is offering him very little protection, and that's severely crippling his production. The upside to Harris is the volume of work he is trusted with in the Steelers offense. On the season, only Jonathon Taylor and Joe Mixon have averaged more carries per game than Harris (17.9). The downside though is his efficiency, as Harris averages just 3.7 yards per carry.
That provides bettors with a difficult predicament. Harris has seen 19 or more touches in each of his last three games, and he should be in line for another monster workload, but his yards per carry hamper his ability to put up big numbers and the Browns give up just 4.1 yards per attempt (ranked eighth in the NFL).
Harris’ lack of efficiency didn’t stop him in Week 8 as he ran 26 times for 91 yards against the Browns, but that might be an anomaly. Against teams that allow 4.0 yards per attempt or lower this season, he’s managed 14 rushes for 40 yards (Week 3 vs. the Bengals), 24 rushes for 81 yards (Week 6 vs. the Seahawks), eight rushes for 23 yards (Week 12 vs. the Bengals), 21 rushes for 71 yards (Week 13 vs. the Ravens), and 12 rushes for 18 yards (Week 15 vs. the Titans).
That’s a combined 79 attempts (15.8 a game) for 233 yards (46.6 a game). His yards per carry drop to 2.95 in those scenarios, and he’s beaten a line of 75.5 just once in that stretch.
This is the kind of game where Harris could legitimately carry the ball 20 times and still fail to hit 75 yards. I’m taking the Under.
Baker Mayfield Over/Under 217.5 Passing Yards
Baker Mayfield has played for most of this season banged up, so I feel a bit bad regularly taking the Under on his prop lines. It must be hard enough to be an NFL QB without doing it hurt every week.
But having said that, Mayfield has tallied an average of just 187.7 yards per game in the last six weeks and has beaten this line just three times in that run by a combined 34.5 yards. Nearly 42% of Cleveland’s offensive yards have come on the ground, and the Steelers' defense is not a scary prospect anymore. In fact, Pittsburgh give up a massive 4.8 yards per rushing attempt, which is the worst effort in the NFL, and Nick Chubb just ran for 126 yards against the Packers, so it makes sense to hand him the ball.
The Steelers' pass defense is pretty much middle of the pack, allowing opposing QBs to average 243.4 passing yards per game on 6.3 yards per attempt. That isn’t going to make much difference to Mayfield though, who averages just 18.2 completions a game this season – ranked 28th among QBs with at least nine starts this year.
Mayfield completed 20 passes in Week 8 vs. Pittsburgh – one of just five games this season in which he’s completed 20 passes or more – and that got him to just 225 yards. This game could feature far less Mayfield and far more of the run game, so take the Under.
Diontae Johnson Over/Under 73.5 Receiving Yards
Johnson was targeted 13 times in the Week 8 game with the Browns and hauled in six passes for 98 yards. That was his worst performance of the year in terms of catch percentage, so he could have been even better if his connection with Big Ben had been sharper.
On the season so far, only Calvin Ridley, Davante Adams, and Cooper Kupp have seen more targets per game than Johnson, who has been a consistent bright spark for this offense all year. He’s averaged 77.1 yards per game this season, which ranks him inside the top 11 receivers in the league and is a career high for DJ.
The Browns' pass defense has been better than average this year, but they were torched by Davante Adams last week when he caught 10 of 13 targets for 114 yards.
I’d expect Johnson to see double-digit targets from Ben Roethlisberger on MNF – he’s had double-digit targets in 10 of 14 games this season – and that gives me plenty of confidence he’ll clear 73 yards. Johnson has had 20 career games in which he has seen at least 10 targets, and in 70% of those games he cleared the 73.5 yards line.
Johnson has featured in six primetime games on a Monday, and in those games, he’s averaged 67.3 receiving yards per game, so clearly the big stage suits him. He should once again be one of the Steelers’ stars on MNF.