Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-0)
NFL Week One: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 1:00pm EST
Line: Pittsburgh -9
The Pittsburgh Steelers will head to Cleveland to battle the Browns in the season opener Sunday afternoon from FirstEnergy Stadium. The Steelers won the AFC North division with an 11-5 record last season and fell 36-17 to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The Browns were awful last year, going an abysmal 1-15. The Steelers won both meetings last season, winning the first contest 27-24, and followed up with a 24-9 win in the second meeting.
Steelers Loaded on Offense
The Pittsburgh Steelers are once again stacked on offense and should have no problem scoring points this season. Ben Roethlisberger is back and ready to lead his prolific offense after posting another strong 2016 campaign. The 35-year old quarterback recorded 3819 passing yards with a strong 29:13 TD to INT ratio in 14 games last year. Le’Veon Bell is poised for another dominating season as he looks to build on his outstanding 2016 season. The fifth year running back tallied 1268 rushing yards with seven touchdowns in 12 games played last season. Bell rushed for 146 yards in his one meeting against the Browns last season. The Steelers receiving core is led by superstar Antonio Brown and they also feature Martavis Bryant who missed all of last season due to a suspension. Bryant recorded 765 receiving yards in 2016 and should put up big numbers behind Antonio Brown.
The Steelers defense will not dominate however it is good enough to lead them to another division title. They feature a solid defensive line however their secondary does lack depth. They added to their secondary by signing former Browns cornerback Joe Haden to a three -year deal for 27 million.
The Steelers deep offense scored an average of 24.9 points per game last season, good for tenth in the NFL. The Pittsburgh defense conceded an average of 20.4 points, positioning them tenth overall.
Browns Go with Rookie QB Kizer as Starter
The Cleveland Browns head into the 2017 season with renewed optimism with some promising building blocks on offense. DeShone Kizer will take over as the new starting quarterback after being selected in the second round of the NFL draft. The 21-year old rookie quarterback had a decent preseason, connecting on 25 of his 49 pass attempts for 351 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Browns running game should be a strength led by Isaiah Crowell who had a very encouraging 2016 season. The 24-year old running back accumulated a career-high 952 rushing yards to go with seven touchdowns and averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry last year. Cleveland’s offensive line is also a strong suit which should help Crowell have a big season. The receiving core will be led by Kenny Britt who was added from the Rams in the offseason. Britt collected 1002 receiving yards last season.
The Browns defense struggled last season however they should show some improvement this year. They drafted defensive lineman Myles Garrett with the first overall draft pick in this year’s draft and the former Texas A&M standout should make an immediate impact. Cleveland also added Jabril Peppers in the first round who played multiple positions with the Wolverines last year and will start the season as a safety.
Last season, the Browns only averaged 16.5 points per game, ranking them down at 31st in the NFL. The Cleveland defense also struggled, allowing an average of 28.3 points per game, placing them 30th overall.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are:
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games.
- 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games against the Browns.
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 September games.
The Cleveland Browns are:
- 5-20-1 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
- 1-8 ATS in their last 9 home games.
- 0-10-1 ATS in their last 11 divisional games.
I am siding with the Steelers in this contest. I feel this is a very reasonable spread in the Steelers favor considering their powerhouse offense. The Browns had trouble stopping the run last season, ranking 31st in the NFL after allowing an average of 142 rushing yards per game. Le’Veon Bell is unstoppable and he rushed for 146 yards in his lone meeting against the Browns last season. The Browns offense is awful and they are going with rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer who did not have a great preseason, and barely completed 50% of his passes.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers -9
While I do expect the Steelers to have a big afternoon offensively the same can’t be said for the Browns. Cleveland has a weak receiving core and I don’t expect Kizer to do a lot in his first NFL regular season game. Pittsburgh does feature a decent rush defense and all they have to do is stop Crowell and they will be able to contain the Browns offensively, plus the under is 4-0 in their last four games in Cleveland. The under is 19-7 in the Steelers last 26 road games, and I think it hits again in this one.