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NFL Betting: Steelers vs. Browns Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 11/23/2013 1:07:55 PM

The Cleveland Browns are favored at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a quite remarkable development within the course of this specific season and when measured against the longer run of history in the National Football League over the past several years… and really for the last two decades.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns

Odds: Browns -1

Total: 41.5

The Cleveland Browns have made the playoffs only two times over the past 23 NFL seasons, in 1994 and 2002. Each time, the Browns were knocked out of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clearly, Pittsburgh isn’t just Cleveland’s nemesis, though. The Steelers have been independently good over a much longer span of time, and Cleveland – after excelling during the 1980s – ceased to be good in the early 1990s, with a few rare exceptions. The Steelers have been the class of what was the AFC Central Division and which has now been renamed the AFC North. Cleveland has typically inhabited the basement or at least the lower portion of the division. The Steelers made the Super Bowl three seasons ago and seemed primed to continue to be a regular force in the NFL. The Browns have endured one bad season after another, sending their loyal fan base into a prolonged depression.

Entering this game, it is true that Cleveland does not have a winning record, but nevertheless, the Browns have not fared worse than the Steelers entering week 12 of the season. The Browns’ defense is an improved version of what this franchise has had to work with in the past, and the Steelers’ offense has regressed. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looks old instead of experienced. He looks frail instead of wise. Roethlisberger has made so many big plays over the course of his distinguished career by scrambling to buy time for himself and his receivers, but as he’s gotten older, Roethlisberger has been slowed down by various bumps and bruises. He is not able to escape pressure with the same consistency he used to display. Pittsburgh’s offense is simply more vulnerable than it’s ever been; after an 8-8 season in 2012, there was an expectation that the Steelers would regain lost glories in 2013. However, this team has faded and looked more impotent, suggesting that the roster needs to be overhauled, at least on offense. Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been hit by injuries, but it might very well be time for a new quarterback to be considered, while also bringing in a new crop of wide receivers as well.

All in all, the more one looks at this game, the more realistic it becomes to think that Cleveland’s defense can shut down Pittsburgh’s offense and give the Browns the edge. Cleveland doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel on offense. The Browns have a ball-control quarterback in the person of Jason Campbell who tries to distribute the ball and avoid mistakes. If the Browns don’t commit turnovers, they’ll win.

Prediction

It’s true that the Steelers have had the Browns’ number in the past, but the Browns have the better defense and are playing at home. They can find a comfort zone here and knock off Pittsburgh.

Pick: Browns -1

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