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We know how many points the Cleveland Browns being alive for the playoffs is worth to the spread.
The answer must be 5.5 points. Before the Browns were mathematically eliminated on Sunday, they were 3.5-point favorites against the Pittsburgh Steelers at BetMGM. When the Browns were eliminated the line moved to Cleveland -1, a significant line move because it went through the key number of 3. Then overnight Sunday, it moved again to Pittsburgh -2.
That line move might be a little too much. The Browns have prepared all week as if they were alive, and it seems unlikely they'll pull their starters. Maybe some starters sit next week, but eliminating the Steelers (who can still get in by winning out and having the Jaguars beat the Colts next week ... yeah, yeah, we know that won't happen) would be a nice way to end the season. There's still a rivalry there. Playoffs or not, players want to compete and win. I don't believe the Browns will roll over based on their elimination. Therefore, I don't think the line should have moved much, if at all.
On the other side, the Steelers looked like they were in some trouble last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. They looked like a team that has fought hard through limitations and might be out of gas. The narrative that Ben Roethlisberger could have a big performance in his final home game as a Steeler ignores that Roethlisberger hasn't been very good all season and it's not like he was waiting until this week to try hard. What we've seen out of the Steelers is what we'll get. It'll be an ugly game and they'll try to find a way to win, which they did at Cleveland earlier this season.
I don't think we'll see a repeat of that. You'll hear the Browns don't have anything to play for but that's not totally accurate. I believe they'll still want to win. Cleveland is the right side, and you'll get extra value on them after the line moved.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
What props are there for Monday night?
BetMGM didn't have any player props listed on Monday morning, presumably to see if the Browns would pull anyone from the lineup. Mostly I'd look for unders in what should be a low-scoring game. The first time the teams met, the Steelers won 15-10.
No college football, but there's some college hoops
Unfortunately, no bowl games on Monday. There are only two college football games left, and the next one is the Texas Bowl on Tuesday.
There are two games in college basketball involving top-10 teams. Purdue, which was No. 3 in last week's AP top 25, hosts Wisconsin. The Boilermakers are 12.5-point favorites at BetMGM, which is a bit heavy against a Badgers team that has been surprisingly good. The other game involves Arizona, No. 9 in last week's poll, taking on Washington. The 5-5 Huskies have fallen hard and are 22.5-point underdogs.
In addition there's a Maryland-Iowa Big Ten game and Colorado at Oregon in the Pac-12.
What about the pros?
There's one NHL game that hasn't been postponed, and it's Edmonton at the New York Rangers. The Rangers are -130 favorites.
In the NBA there are 10 games. We've said it often here, but make sure you have a handle on who is in or out of each lineup due to COVID-19 before betting on the NBA. The best game might be a surprisingly good Memphis team at the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are 6.5-point favorites but don't be surprised if the Grizzlies keep it competitive. Memphis is 22-15 against the spread, according to Covers.com.
The other marquee game is the Miami Heat at the Golden State Warriors. Jimmy Butler is back for the Heat, who could make a competitive game against the Warriors. Golden State is an 8.5-point favorite.
What's the best bet?
I liked the Browns at -3.5, I liked them even more at -1 and, of course, I'll take them at +2. As stated before, I don't believe the Browns will pack it in just because they were eliminated from the playoff race.