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A look at NFL handicapping with the PFW editor lobbying to become Las Vegas bureau chief.

Can underdog Browns get off to fast start?

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Posted July 07, 2010 @ 9:48 p.m.
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Mike Wilkening

The Browns are in a tough spot in the AFC North, with the Ravens looking like an AFC-title contender, the Bengals coming off a 10-win season and the Steelers still dangerous. But I won't be shocked if Cleveland gets off to a good start..

Cleveland's early schedule is favorable. The Browns' opener is at Tampa Bay, which was just 1-7 at home last season. In Week Two, they host the rebuilding Chiefs. Back-to-back wins to start the season seem in the Browns' scope, though they are hardly assured.

Nevertheless, the Browns appear improved. QB Jake Delhomme will help the offense, and the defense will be better. Cleveland finished the season with four straight wins, all against teams that did not make the playoffs, but a healthy sign all the same.

Underdogs of 2-to-3 points in their opener vs. the young Buccaneers, the Browns have a chance to build some early momentum. I doubt this line exceeds a field goal, and I won't be surprised if it closes at less than three points. However, in looking at the line movement at Nevada sportsbooks charted by VegasInsider.com, it appears there has been some money on Tampa Bay early; note that the Las Vegas Hilton opened with Tampa as a one-point favorite and has moved the line to Tampa Bay minus-2.

Also, the line moved up a little at a few Internet sportsbooks whose line movements are charted by VegasInsider.com, too.

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