Has a bye week ever come at better time for team than last week for the Cleveland Browns? If any team in the league needed some time to regroup is was this team. After a disappointing 2-4 start to the season and another home loss (0-3 SU + ATS) to the Seattle Seahawks, the Browns find themselves tied for second in the AFC North and 2.5 games behind the front running Baltimore Ravens.
The issues abound for the Browns as they look to turn their season around. First year coach Freddie Kitchens has looked totally lost at times and an offense that came into the year with so much promise is currently ranked 23rd in the league. Not to mention that through the first six games, Baker Mayfield has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL.
With all that said, let’s try to look past the poor start to the season and take a look at the odds to win the AFC North and how everything stacks up right now. The current numbers on the division are much different than they were at the beginning of the season. After entering the year as +145 favorite to win the AFC North, the Browns have dropped (deservedly so) to the +450 second choice in the division behind the Ravens at -335. For sake of this argument, let’s say the Browns do lose this week at the Patriots. They would fall to 2-5 on the season and we will most likely see this number move even further up +550 or even higher, where it becomes a very interesting play in my mind.
The second half schedule for Cleveland is filled with all very winnable games; far from the murderers row the Browns have kicked off the season with. It is my belief that the battle tested Browns may literally run their way through the second half of their schedule on the backs of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Let’s not forget Hunt has been cleared to rejoin the team and began practicing this week. He is eligible to play in games beginning week 10; a November 10th home tilt against the Buffalo Bills. That kicks off a stretch of games against the likes of the Dolphins, Bengals, Cardinals and the Steelers twice.
Let’s hope Cleveland can find a way to right the ship, the path for doing so the rest of the way should be much easier than it has been to start. The rough start could, and I believe will, prove beneficial to this team in the long run. I know hindsight is 202, but think about the circumstances: they were starting a season with a new coach, the youngest personnel in the league, and then if you factor in Cleveland’s opponents thus far, it’s easy to see how we everything was pointing towards a slow start. But its not how you start, it’s how you finish! And there will be better days to come from this young developing team.
The Cleveland Browns Week 8 Preview and Odds Against the Patriots
Well, maybe not this week. This week Cleveland will be put to another test, possibly the ultimate test actually. As they prepare to head into Foxboro on Sunday to take on the 7 – 0 New England Patriots. The Browns are currently sitting at 13-point underdogs for this one, that is up 2.5 from the 10.5-point opening line. Over 70% of the public wagers on this game have been on the Patriots and who can blame them? New England is 5 – 2 ATS on the season and the UNDER has also hit in five of the seven Patriot games. This defense may be the best Bill Belichick throughout their entire run.
Although many have maligned the Patriots for not having the most difficult schedule to start the season, they have been playing at an historic pace; outscoring their opponents by 175 points through seven games, an average margin of victory of 25 points. New England’s defense—which has far overshadowed the offense so far—has only given up 48 points so far on the season. The Over/Under on this game has been set at 46 and has seen even action on both sides.
Both teams will have their running game be top priority in this one. If Mayfield and the Browns are able to avoid some turnovers and grind out some clock with Nick Chubb, I can see the potential pace of this game to conducive to a low scoring affair. The coaching matchup is a tough one to get past, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Browns cover this inflated number coming out of the bye.