Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
The Steelers went 13-3 last season, but were not as good as their record suggested, as they went 8-2 in games decided by 7 points or fewer. They especially struggled down the stretch, winning just 2 games by more than 4 points in the final 8 games of the season and then losing in their first playoff game at home to Jacksonville. That was in large part due to the loss of linebacker Ryan Shazier with injury and they did not adequately replace him this off-season. On top of that, the Steelers will be without running back Le’Veon Bell for at least the first game of the season, due to a holdout.
The Steelers may still win double digit games this season due to a weak schedule, but they should not be favored by 4.5 points on the road against a much improved Browns team. Outside of the turnover margin, the Browns were not a terrible team in 2018 and the switch from one of the most turnover prone quarterbacks in the NFL in Deshone Kizer to one of the least in Tyrod Taylor should at least make this team respectable, much like Alex Smith did when he arrived in Kansas City. They also added Jarvis Landry and should once again have a capable defense. If the Steelers win this game, I would expect it to be close like many of their wins were in 2017. I like the Browns’ chances of winning outright as well.
Cleveland Browns 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 23 Upset Pick +180
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +4.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week