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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Point Spread - Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Week 1 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Betting Odds: PIT -9/CLE +9
Over/Under Total: 47

The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Cleveland Browns in week one AFC North action from FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday. The roles are stark here—with the almost certainly playoff-bound Steelers taking on a Browns bunch that was 1-15 last season. Pittsburgh got the season sweep last season and look to keep that going in a season where a lot is expected after getting to the AFC title game in '16. Despite their lowly status, the Browns are doing some things the right way for the rebuild. They hope for more wins this season, while those who bet on them hope for that to go better, as well. The Browns covered the spread just three times in 2016.

The Browns will start rookie DeShone Kizer at quarterback, with Cody Kessler not really up for the gig and Brock Osweiler back on his way to Denver. Kizer is just 21 and nothing about him really suggests a future star QB, but that's been said about a lot of guys who ended up thriving in this league. On one hand, he has an offensive line that is ahead of the rest of the team. But the dearth of playmaking talent won't make it easy.

The Browns saw Terrelle Pryor go the Redskins, but they added Kenny Britt, who should make up for some of the production. First round tight end David Njoku will help and if former first-rounder Corey Coleman can realize some of his potential, it would really help. Isaiah Crowder is a powerful talent at running back and Duke Johnson is back there, too. Guard Kevin Zeitler and C JC Tretter boost a front that has Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio (questionable) at the tackle spots.

Gregg Williams has a proven track record and is now the Browns' defensive coordinator. Young talent could resonate with number-one pick Myles Garrett (out) at defensive end and Jabrill Peppers at strong safety. Joe Haden and his waning production were cut and they need guys like CB Jabar Taylor, who had a good season last year. Safety Derick Kindred can perhaps make an impact. They are decent in the middle with Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey. Up front, Danny Shelton and Emmanuel Ogbah are serviceable defensive ends and Larry Ogunjobi is an interesting prospect at defensive tackle. All told, the Browns have an improved roster. They invested on the line of scrimmage and the team just looks better than last season.

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It's still a ways off from what the Steelers bring to the table. The 2016 season was a successful, yet strange one where they started 4-1, lost 4 in a row, and then won 9 straight to get to the AFC Championship. Things seem to line up well for the Steelers to see things click this season. It really comes down to health in key positions. Can Ben Roethlisberger stay healthy? Will the cast of playmakers hit their potential and stay out of trouble? Will key guys on defense continue to develop? Will it hurt the Steelers that an inordinate amount of key pieces to the puzzle seem to be injury-prone?

Still, the Pittsburgh offense could be the best in the league this season. The Le'Veon Bell holdout doesn't help, but otherwise, it's a full cast of playmakers. Rookie James Conner becomes more of a factor for the purposes of this game if Bell is limited, which seems to be in play. Antonio Brown is one of the best in the league and the ball-catching talent behind him is immense. Martavis Bryant has shown he can be a special defense-stretching receiver. They added Justin Hunter and rookie JuJu Smith Schuster, while Eli Rogers and Darrius Heyward-Bey round out a deep crew. With Ladarius Green having not worked out, tight end is a bit thin. But an intact and rising offensive line really helps bring it all together.

The Steelers' defense should be hitting its stride with a nice mix of experience and potential that is finally being realized. Cameron Heyward being healthy boosts the front, which should be pretty good with Bud Dupree, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave (questionable). First-round pick TJ Watt gives them another difference-making linebacker. Ryan Shazier, when healthy, is a big presence in the middle. And James Harrison is still available and capable. The secondary should be stronger with growing CB Artie Burns and CB Sean Davis, along with S Mike Mitchell, S Robert Golden, CB William Gay, CB Cameron Sutton, and Senquez Golson. There are a lot of options.

It's hard to get behind a team that was 1-15 last season and is still clearly more in a mode of working on getting things right than they are in winning right now. We just see them doing some things that might make them better ahead of schedule. And as a near double-digit home underdog, even against an explosive team like Pittsburgh, we see them having some upside this week. We're taking the Browns.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm taking the Cleveland Browns plus 9 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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