NFL Picks and Odds: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

LeVeon Bell-steelers-2014Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Spread: PIT -9
Total: 44

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

Since beginning the season 4-1, the Pittsburgh Steelers have dropped four-straight contests and will look to get it together against the hapless Cleveland Browns on CBS this Sunday. The Steelers are 9-point favorites in the game according to NFL oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the over/under is set at 44 for the game.

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The Steelers have not been getting sufficient offensive production. In the three losses prior to last week’s 35-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers had been outscored 45 to 78 in losses to Miami, New England and Baltimore. Last week in the loss to Dallas, Ben Roethlisberger threw 37 of 46 for 408 yards and three TDs, but the Steelers backfield generaged just 48 total rushing yards with Le’Veon Bell gaining 57 on 14 carries with a TD. Antonio Brown caught 14 of 18 targetted passes for 154 yards and a TD, and Bell had 77 receiving yards and a TD as well. Bell did fumble, but it was not lost.

Defensively, Ryan Shazier was big with nine tackles (four solo), one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery. The Steelers had two sacks and three tackles for loss in the game, but gave up 114 yards to Ezekiel Elliot (two rushing TDs too) and 116 receiving yards to Dez Bryant with Elliot going for another 95 receiving yards. The Dallas offense was clicking in spite of strong Steelers blitzes, but the Browns may be an entirely different story this week. Cleveland has been woeful.

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The Browns are 0-10 and lost the last two weeks by a combined 53 to 17 in losses to Dallas and Baltimore. The offense ranks No. 30 in the NFL generating just 17.5 points per game, while the defense is second-to-worst in allowing 30.1 points per game. The pass offense ranks No. 27 and the rush No. 22, as the Browns truly have no strengths to speak of as a team.

Cody Kessler three 11 of 18 for 91 yards and Josh McCown was 6 of 13 for 59 yards, but McCown threw two interceptions and was sacked three times (for 29 lost yards). Kessler averaged just 5.1 yards per attempt but did throw a TD pass and log a 92.6 passer rating. The rush attack was entirely ineffective, averaging 2.5 yards per carry on 13 attempts, with Isaiah Crowell leading the way with 23 yards on nine attempts. Terrelle Pryor Sr. had five catches for 48 yards, and Crowell caught three for 30 yards, but the Browns managed just one TD and 183 total yards of offense.

Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. both have been effective backs, but neither has been explosive. Crowell averages 4.6 yards per carry but has just four rushes for more than 20 yards and five TDs. He has logged a team-high 27 first downs, and Johnson averaged 5.0 yards per carry on his 49 attempts before attempting just four carries last week. He had 69 yards in the 30-24 loss to Miami on Sept 25, and the Browns might be wise to get the second year running back from Miami some more touches. He has also caught four passes per game over the last five contests. Getting him more involved is imperative for a team that has struggled so badly to generate quality offensive options.

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