What are the odds: Cleveland has potential as “Believeland”


Lake Fong/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/MCT

Pittsburgh Panthers then-running back James Conner dives to score a 14-yard touchdown against Duke in the first overtime at Heinz Field on Nov. 1, 2014. Duke won 51-48 in double overtime. Lake Fong/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/MCT

By Colin Martin, Staff Writer

Well, last week wasn’t a great weekend for betting at all. I went just 1-3 in my picks, making the season record at a dead even, 18-18. But with both Pitt football and the Pittsburgh Steelers back in action now after a bye week, I plan on winning big on their games.

The NBA season is also in full swing, which means tons of games are going on all weekend. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry was on fire the other night against the Washington Wizards — the guard scored 51 points total, with 11 3-point shots made in only three quarters of action. The Golden State Warriors were up by enough that Curry got to take the fourth quarter off.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers finally got their first win of the season after starting out 0-3. Some “fans” of the Lakers were ready to push the panic button after the team’s slow start. But, don’t worry, everything will be alright in La La Land with James.

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Source: Odds Shark (Graphic by Brian Gentry | Online Visual Editor)

Duke (5-2) vs. Pitt (3-4)

Spread: Duke -2.5

Over/under: 46

Analysis: The Pittsburgh Panthers enjoyed a much-needed bye week after their tough performance in South Bend, Indiana, against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It looked as if Pitt’s head coach Pat Narduzzi was going to get his annual upset against a top-ranked team. But instead, Notre Dame took things into their own hands and finished strong in the fourth quarter to win 19-14.

The Panthers are now working hard to get back to a 0.500 record, and need this win against Duke. Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall can carry the offense on their strong run game, but the defense is going to need to make a stop or else the Blue Devils will score all over them.

The Blue Devils may be 5-2 and only one win away from bowl eligibility, but they have not done well this year in ACC games. Duke is 1-2 in ACC conference games, losing to both Virginia and Virginia Tech. Led by redshirt junior quarterback Daniel Jones, the Blue Devils have averaged 29.4 points per game. Jones has thrown for 1,061 yards and nine touchdowns so far, and could easily have two or three against the Panthers.

Bet: Take Duke to cover the spread and bet the over.

Cleveland Browns (2-4-1) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1)

Spread: Pittsburgh -8.5

Over/under: 49

Analysis: I wonder if this weekend’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns will also decide the result from their first game against each other. Since the Steelers and Browns tied in Week 1 of the season, this game should give the winner two wins and the loser two losses, while erasing the tie from the record.

It seems an old-fashioned AFC North battle will ensue. The Steelers have won two games in a row and then enjoyed a nice bye week, during which “star” running back Le’Veon Bell was supposed to show up to the team, but didn’t. His holdout continues, but doesn’t affect the Steelers offense considering the success of Bell’s replacement, James Conner, and wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Steelers can win on Sunday and stretch their lead in the division.

Cleveland is really starting to become “Believeland” after winning two of their last five games. That may not seem like a lot of wins, but any wins are great for the Browns. Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield played well last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — throwing for 215 yards and two touchdowns. But the Browns blew the game like usual and lost on an overtime 59-yard field goal. Mayfield admitted his frustration in the press conference, and a win at Pittsburgh could make the rookie very happy.

Bet: Cleveland should cover the eight-point spread and bet the over.

Golden State Warriors (4-1) vs. New York Knicks (1-4)

Spread: Golden State -12

Over/under:  229.5

Analysis: Madison Square Garden, one of the best arenas in the country to watch a basketball game, gets to host the defending champs. Expect all the New York-based celebrities to come out and sit front row on Friday night so they can watch the Golden State Warriors beat up on their New York Knicks. The Warriors are coming off a 144-122 win over the Washington Wizards.

Lucky for the Knicks, Curry took all his anger out on the Wizards, scoring 51 points in only three quarters against them. The Garden is one of Curry’s favorite places to score heavily, with his career-high 54 points taking place there against the Knicks in 2013. But expect Curry to let teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have some fun in the Big Apple.

The Knicks haven’t looked awful this year, and that is just about as nice as I can be toward them. The team, which is hated for losing by its fanbase, has some things they can look forward to this year and in the future.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is almost playing like he deserves to be paid the $71 million over four years the Knicks gave him. Rookie Kevin Knox had been playing very well and seemed to fit in perfectly with head coach David Fizdale’s scheme. That was, until he rolled his ankle Oct. 20 against the Boston Celtics, putting him out on injury. And of course, the Knicks will eventually get back star forward Kristaps Porzingis, who is still recovering from a torn ACL from last season.

It may be best for the team to tank this season. They should focus on not forcing Porzingis back too early and attempting to get a top draft pick instead. As for their game against the Warriors? It feels like a perfect opportunity for crazy Knicks fans to try and recruit future free agent Kevin Durant while he dominates their team.

Bet: Take the Golden State to cover and bet the under.