Dec 012012
 

Cleveland Browns (3-8) at Oakland Raiders (3-8)

The Raiders seem to have completely quit. They’ve lost 4 straight by a combined score of 169-79. Reports out of their practices aren’t pretty either as middle linebacker Rolando McClain, actually one of their better defensive players, has been suspended for 2 games for conduct detrimental to the team, reportedly that he yelled at 1st year Head Coach Dennis Allen. It was first reported that McClain had been waived as he posted on Facebook that he was no longer an Oakland Raider and that he was looking forward to playing for an “actual team,” but after the dust cleared it appears he is technically still on the roster.

I picked the Raiders to cover last week for a big play. It seemed reasonable. The Bengals were 3-9 ATS as touchdown favorites in the Marvin Lewis era and teams were 36-16 ATS since 2002 off back-to-back losses by 21 or more. Teams in that situation tend to be undervalued, embarrassed, and overlooked, but none of that matters if you’ve quit.

When the Raiders lost to the Bengals by 24, it was believe it or not just the 13th time since 1989 that a team had lost 3 straight by 21 or more. That’s how rarely teams get blown out by that much and how bad things have gotten in Oakland. For the record, teams off 3+ losses of 21 or more are 4-8 ATS, which makes sense since those seem to be teams who have quit. The rule of thumb, if a team has lost 2 straight by 21 or more, bet them, but if they don’t come through for you, definitely stay away from them in the next week.

The Browns, meanwhile, got a huge win last week against the Steelers, but they weren’t as impressive as the final score would suggest. They needed a fluky turnover total (8) by the Steelers, which was just the 13th time that’s happened since 1989, to even win by 6 against the Charlie Batch led Steelers who were in a bad spot sandwiched in between two huge games with the Ravens. That won’t happen again. Turnover differentials are incredibly inconsistent anyway.

That loss shifted this line 2.5 points from last week as it was a pick em and now Cleveland is favored by 2.5 on the road. However, that doesn’t mean the Browns are overrated or anything. They were underrated before last week. They haven’t gotten blown off the field by anyone this season and they have a very solid defense. Despite their record, they rank 22nd in net points per drive and 25th in DVOA and weighted DVOA. The Raiders, meanwhile, rank 31st in net points per drive, 31st in DVOA, and 32nd in weighted DVOA. The real line using the net points per drive method is Cleveland -5, so there’s still line value with the Browns in spite of the line movement.

That being said, it’d hard to take the Browns for a big play. They’re coming off such a huge win against the Steelers. Teams tend to struggle after beating the Steelers anyway, for some reasons, going 19-40 ATS in that situation since 2002. That’s not the case for any other team. You can only imagine how much bigger it is for the Browns, who had previously beaten the Steelers just twice in their last 23 matchups. They might be flat for a crappy Raiders team. However, the Raiders will definitely be flat since that seems to be their thing now. Besides, they may be looking forward to a Thursday Night game against Denver next week. It’s not a huge play at all, but Cleveland should be able to come into Oakland and beat a reeling Oakland team by at least 3.

Public lean: Cleveland (50% range)

Sharps lean: CLE 7 OAK 6

Final update: No surprise people are staying away from this game. The shitty Raiders or the Browns as road dogs (which they somehow are 6-1 ATS as since 2002)?

Cleveland Browns 24 Oakland Raiders 20

Pick against spread: Cleveland -2.5 (-110) 1 unit

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