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NFL Expert Picks: Without Le’Veon Bell, experts aren’t sold on easy Steelers win vs. Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns will square off in Week 1, and it seems nothing is certain heading into the AFC North grudge match.

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns will go head-to-head in Week 1 of the 2018 NFL Regular Season for the second straight season, both of these meetings in Cleveland. Just like 2017, the Steelers’ All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell decided to sit out the entire preseason, but this year Bell’s holdout is stretching into the regular season.

Since Bell hasn’t reported, and isn’t expected to play in Week 1, NFL experts who submit weekly picks are anything but certain about the Steelers’ chances of coming out of Cleveland with a victory.

What once was a certainty has now become a question with the insurgence of free agent talent like Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry to Cleveland, along with some high draft picks, like Myles Garrett, who are starting to pay dividends. Compound that with the Steelers missing one of their most lethal offensive weapons and what you have is a whole lot of confusion for those picking the winners.

Will Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and a very unknown defense be able to make enough plays to win? Or will the Browns hand Roethlisberger just his third loss against the organization since being drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft?

According to the experts at USA Today, no Bell equals no problem. The entire panel who picks every game thinks the Steelers will roll into Week 2 with a 1-0 record. However, they were the only panel which was unanimous in favor of the Steelers.

The experts at ESPN were close to being all-in on the Steelers, but one expert thinks the Browns will pull off the upset and ignite their home crowd in the process. A similar song can be sung by the haters here at SB Nation. Whenever reading these articles you can always count on these ‘experts’ to go against the grain and pick against the Steelers. However, just like ESPN, only one SB Nation expert thinks the Browns will start the season 1-0.

The most Browns-friendly website, if there is such a thing, would be at CBSSports. The expert panel there had two of their eight experts picking the Browns to be victorious in the first AFC North game of the season.

While the large majority of these experts listed above think the Steelers will indeed win the Week 1 contest, it is a small sample size when you think about all of the websites who produce weekly NFL picks. This is where our friends at NFL Pick Watch come in. NFL Pick Watch is a website which compiles all of the internet’s expert picks and puts them into one easy-to-read chart.

For the Steelers’ Week 1 game, 85-percent of the online experts believe the Steelers will win the game Sunday.

Will Pittsburgh have enough offensive firepower without Bell to win? That is anyone’s guess, and we all will certainly find out this Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT, but compared to past seasons the experts aren’t just thinking this will be a cake walk for the Steelers, but a game Pittsburgh will have to earn.