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Browns vs. Steelers, 8:15 ET
I’m not quite sure why these teams are playing on Monday night along with another game, but I’m not going to complain. My belief, typically, is “More Football, More Better.” Football is also unlike any other sport, it really doesn’t matter who is playing, it is almost always worth watching. Let’s be honest, if you’re not betting on it, or not a fan of either team, are you going to watch the Guardians play the Pirates on a Monday night? No, but you’re damn sure to tune in for the Browns vs. Steelers.
The Browns shocked the NFL a bit last week with a victory over the cocky Cincinnati Bengals. You’d love to think things might go right for Cleveland, that this could be the year they steal the division or make the playoffs, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Last season, the Bengals stunk the first two weeks as well. The good thing for the Browns is that they seemed to execute their game plan as well as possible. We know the Browns want to establish the running game as much as possible, and at least in theory, have a defense with solid playmakers. In the opener against the Bengals, they allowed 157 yards to the opponent’s offense, and were able to put up 154 passing yards alone. That doesn’t mention the 206 yards that they gained on the ground. Deshaun Watson will probably have a bit tougher time in Pittsburgh, as playing on the road is always more difficult than at home, but I’m expecting he will put up a fairly similar performance. In most games this season he will probably be about 50-60% completion and have a touchdown pass and an interception. If he can get his legs underneath him finally, he could have this offense looking pretty explosive.
Pittsburgh is going to struggle this season if you ask me. I don’t particularly like most of their offensive weapons – Najee Harris is a solid back, but he isn’t great, their wide receivers aren’t anything spectacular, and, most importantly, Kenny Pickett, isn’t a quarterback I would personally feel great about under center. It is hard to judge them based on the opener alone as they had to face the 49ers, a team that looks like they will compete for the Super Bowl this year, but Pickett threw two interceptions to just one touchdown and 232 yards. The run game became almost nonexistent as they were down and had to throw in order to get back into the game. It was an ugly loss, but it was just one game. If they can find a way to get some space against the Cleveland defensive front, they could make this game interesting. Simply put, they can’t rely on Pickett to win the game for them, it has to be a collective effort. They need Harris to get them five yards on multiple carries instead of sporadically. They need to do that in order to open some space for receivers. If they do that, Pittsburgh should be able to at least keep it close.
I don’t really think the game has a total you can play. 38 points between these two is a line that could be met in the first half or could be under if they played eight quarters. It really is too hard to tell on this one, plus you’ve lost too much value as it opened at 43, so I’d highly recommend staying away from the total. However, I do think we can get on the Browns still as I expect them to win the game. It wouldn’t shock me if the Steelers put in a better effort, and a first half bet on them is actually a decent idea here, but I do think the Browns have the better squad tonight and will be able to cover the short -2 spread.
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