Pick 2: Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland and Green Bay vs. Seattle

Pick 2: Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland and Green Bay vs. Seattle

The Teaser: Pair Pittsburgh and Green Bay

Game 1: Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland

The Initial Line:

Pittsburgh -6.5 home vs. Cleveland

The Take:

Add 6 points to Pittsburgh’s line

The Final Line:

Pittsburgh -0.5

The Breakdown:

Pittsburgh’s 2013 campaign started out horribly with an 0-4 record, even though the team almost recovered to make the playoffs with a final record of 8-8. They should be in the mix of things in 2014, as no one is the clear winner in the AFC North division. Pittsburgh also still has Big Ben, who brings Super Bowl experience and a competitive drive to the team. Everyone knows Cleveland’s story at this point, with another losing season of 4-12. The spotlight has finally been on them this preseason with the arrival of Johnny Manziel, but Cleveland fans don’t even have that to enjoy as Manziel will start the season on the bench.

Since Roethlisberger’s arrival in 2004, Pittsburgh owns a dominating 18-2 (90% Win %) record against Cleveland. Also in that span of time, Pittsburgh has been one of the best teams at home with a 59-21 record (73.8% Win %) and all of those seasons had a home record of 5-3 or better. Pittsburgh’s physical team and tough atmosphere is going to be too much for Brian Hoyer’s offense to handle. Take Pittsburgh at -0.5 as they will secure a victory at home this Sunday.

Game 2: Green Bay vs. Seattle

The Initial Line:

Green Bay +4.5 away vs. Seattle

The Take:

Add 6 points to Green Bay’s line

The Final Line:

Green Bay +10.5

The Breakdown:

Green Bay made its way to the playoffs in 2013 despite not having Aaron Rodgers for much of the season. Everyone obviously knows about Seattle’s dream season where they claimed their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history over the high-powered Denver offense. A team hasn’t won back-to-back Super Bowls since New England did it between 2003-2004. Seattle finds themselves in a tough NFC West division where players will beat up on one another. Green Bay has a slightly easier path as Chicago poses the only real threat in the NFC North division in 2014.

The defending champs will always have a target on their back. Seattle was a dominant team at home in 2013 (7-1), but Green Bay is looking to de-seed the Hawks as the powerhouse in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers held the NFL’s best passer rating in 2011 and 2012 (122.5 and 108 respectively), before injuries sidelined him for 2013. Expect Green Bay to get back to their dominant form in 2014 with Rodgers at the helm. This Thursday night season-opener will bring a lot of excitement and energy in Centurylink Field with the “12th man”, but expect this to be an opening night battle. This one is likely to be tight to the end, so feel comfortable taking Green Bay with a TD and FG cushion at 10.5.

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