NFL Week 1 Predictions: Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, 9/7/14, 1:00 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  Pittsburgh -5
Current Betting Line:  Pittsburgh -5
Opening Total:  40
Current Total:  40
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games against the Cleveland Browns
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games against the Cleveland Browns

Cleveland will have a completely new look under head coach Mike Pettine, who has numerous challenges in hopes of leading this franchise out of the AFC North cellar, with the top priority being the quarterback position.  Veteran Brian Hoyer is expected to get the start in this matchup, which is important to consider when making your Week 1 NFL predictions, but he’ll be pushed by former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel.  The Browns will likely keep the ball on the ground offensively to start the year, with Ben Tate and Terrance West getting plenty of carries.  Cleveland is 1-8 ATS in its last nine season openers.

The Browns will likely have one of the best defenses in football, with cornerback Pat Haden leading the charge, as he signed a major contract extension during the offseason.  Offensively, the team will likely name its starting signal-caller by the third preseason game, but the unit will be without the services of talented wide receiver Josh Gordon—who may be suspended for the entire year due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy.  Cleveland may elect to make the switch to Manziel in Week 2 or thereafter, as its first week opponent is known for confusing first-year quarterbacks.

Pittsburgh’s window is closing to win a third Super Bowl in the Ben Roethlisberger era, as he needs to become familiar with some new faces at wide receiver, including Lance Moore and Markus Wheaton.  The Steelers are capable of building on last year’s 6-2 finish, which can’t be ignored when looking over the pro football odds page.  Roethlisberger will have some help in the backfield this year with a pair of bruising running backs, while rookie Dri Archer may become a weapon on third down.  Pittsburgh is 5-0 ATS in its last five division games.

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has cited the signing of defensive linemen Cam Thomas as one of the most significant moves of the offseason.  Pittsburgh’s entire season may depend on the development of its linebacker core in its 3-4 scheme, as the franchise has never been a serious contender without this group making some big plays on the field.

Sports bettors will likely back the Steelers due to their 7-3 ATS mark in their last 10 home games in this rivalry.

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