Football footnotes: Without Le’Veon Bell, Steelers’ odds shrink vs. Browns |
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Football footnotes: Without Le’Veon Bell, Steelers’ odds shrink vs. Browns

Tim Benz
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Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell jukes around Browns linebacker Jabrill Peppers during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sept. 10, 2017 in Cleveland.

In today’s Friday football footnotes, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t so popular among gamblers and pundits anymore. The NFL opener was just terrible. Big Penn State alumni news. And Mychal Kendricks enters his plea.

Steelers odds

A lot of money must be coming in on the Browns in advance of the season opener against the Steelers.

According to, via numbers from, the Browns opened the week as a 7-point underdog. The Steelers are suddenly just a 4-point or 3.5-point favorite at many gambling locations.

It could be the “Hard Knocks” bump. Or, more likely, gamblers are getting spooked by the absence of Le’Veon Bell in Week 1.

King picks the Bengals

Many national pundits are predicting the Steelers to win the AFC North.

But as we told you last week, is picking the Ravens. And now, well-known writer Peter King is picking the Bengals on

Here is part of his thinking on why the Steelers are flawed enough to lose out on the division title:

“The eternal search for a secondary continues, as does the search for an interior boss like Ryan Shazier to lead the defense; when Shazier was lost with his spinal injury, the Steelers responded in their five games by allowing 28 points per game and fizzling out of the playoffs. It’s not impossible to fathom Cincinnati or Baltimore winning this division; both are better on defense than the Steelers.”

What a bad start

Bust out those Philadelphia dog masks because the 2018 season opener between the Eagles and Falcons could be summed up this way:


What a dog that game was. The ending was tense. The Eagles won 18-12. But it was drudgery to get there. Here are some lowlights.

• The game was delayed a half hour because of severe weather.

• There were 30 points. There were 26 penalties, 15 for Philly and 11 for the Falcons. Included among the penalties was an atrocious roughing-the-passer call. There also were two blatant missed calls on potential pass-interference flags.

• The catch rule came into dispute three times again. And it appeared replay got it wrong at least twice.

• There were multiple drops, and Matt Ryan threw an awful interception.

• Neither Ryan nor Nick Foles managed to crack a rating of 58.

• The Falcons were putrid in the red zone, going 1 for 5.

Aside from that, what a great game.

We are …

Some Penn State alumni are making news in the NFL.

In Miami, tight end MarQueis Gray tore an Achilles during Wednesday’s practice. So he is on injured reserve.

With Gray out, former Nittany Lion Mike Gesicki is expected to see some more playing time now. That’ll be especially true in the red zone. A.J. Derby, Durham Smythe and potentially Gavin Escobar also will compete for playing time. says Anthony Fasano may come back, too.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, ex-Lion Anthony Zettel is slated to replace his PSU teammate Carl Nassib along the defensive line.

Nassib — and his economics skills — were released at the end of “Hard Kn…,” uh, I mean, at the end of the preseason.

Wolf of the Dawg Pound

Former Browns linebacker Mychal Kendricks was booted from Cleveland after the federal government filed charges of insider trading against him.

Kendricks entered a guilty plea.

He’ll be sentenced in December. The maximum penalty is 25 years in prison.

Seven months ago he was winning a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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