This column appears courtesy of BetNow.eu
The sportsbook odds for the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Cleveland Browns paint a picture of two different teams. On the one hand we have the Steelers consolidating their strengths; we know starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will return for at least this season, and running back Le’Veon Bell finally signed his franchise tag on Friday, 1st. On the other hand, the Browns are in rebuilding mode with a talented but unproven signal-caller.
We will take it as a given, barring an unforeseen upset, the Steelers will win this one; Pittsburgh is coming off an 11-5 season while the Browns have won four games in the past two years. The Steelers are favored to win by nine points, and considering that the Steelers have wide receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, in addition to the aforementioned Roethlisberger and Bell, it’s not unreasonable to believe that they can cover the spread like they did in 11 games of last season. Especially against the Browns who ranked 30th in points allowed in 2016. Additionally, the Steelers are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games, 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine against the AFC, and 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games, while the Browns are 1-8 ATS in their last nine home games, 0-10-1 ATS in their last 11 against the AFC North and 5-20-1 ATS in their last 26 games. The Steelers are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings with the Browns.
Both the Steelers and the Browns have trended toward the underside of the total lately. The total has gone under in 16 of the Steelers’ last 23 overall games, in 11 of their last 14 road games, in four of their last five versus the Browns, and in five of their last five visits to Cleveland. Meanwhile, the total has also gone under in six of the Browns’ last eight games, as well as in their last five home games. Both teams have up-and-coming defenses.
Veteran cornerback Joe Haden joined youngsters Stephon Tuitt, Ryan Shazier and Bud ‘You, Me, And’ Dupree in Pittsburgh, while the Browns of course drafted defensive end Myles Garrett.
The Steelers ranked 10th in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed in 2015. All of the preceding leads support to the theory that this will be sixth straight Steelers visit to FirstEnergy Stadium in which the total goes under. Many people seem to be of the opinion that the Browns will also go under or, rather, continue their downward path. Of course, they could only do worse than last season if they were to go winless, and while their opening game may not be where the fortunes change, we should at least give Deshone Kizer, Garrett, et al the benefit of the doubt. Even Hue. He seems slightly more competent than, say, Todd Bowles, so that’s something, right?