Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Cleveland Browns (4-7)
One of the most powerful trends in betting is known as the six and six trend, meaning teams who finish with 6 wins or fewer are 25-69 ATS as favorites of 6 or more since 2002. There are two issues with this trend. One, it’s very rare (it only happened 7 times all last season, going 2-5 ATS). Two, it’s even rarer that a situation will come up in which you can confidently use the trend. The Eagles were 8.5 point favorites in Cleveland last year week 1 (they didn’t cover), but at the time there was no way to know that the Eagles would finish 6-10 or worse.
Does this trend apply this week to the Browns? Well, it could. They currently sit at 4-7 and would need to go 3-2 over their past 5 games to finish better than 6-10. For a team who plays 3 of its next 5 on the road and who is 1-7 on the season without Brian Hoyer under center, that could be really tough. Aside from this one, their other home game is against Chicago, which isn’t going to be easy. Even if they win that one, they’ll have to pull a road upset in either New York against the Jets, Pittsburgh, or New England to finish above 6-10. That could be really tough, especially if Brandon Weeden is under center for an extended period of time, but even if the struggling Jason Campbell returns next week.
One trend that’s definitely in play here says that teams are 34-69 ATS since 2010 before being double digit underdogs and the Browns definitely will be next week in New England. They could completely overlook the lowly Jaguars with that game coming up, much like the Texans did last week in an eventual Jacksonville win. Going off of that, favorites of 7 or more are 9-25 ATS before being double digit underdogs since 1989.
Of course, the Browns could be justified as touchdown favorites. The Jaguars may have two wins, but they were both close. Meanwhile, their nine losses all came by double digits and they have by far the worst point differential in the NFL. Also, in terms of DVOA, not only are they by far the worst team in the NFL, they are the 4th worst team through 11 games since Football Outsiders started DVOA in 1991. In terms of rate of moving the chains differential, they are also dead last, moving them at a 64% rate, as opposed to 78% for their opponents. No one else has a differential worse than -7%.
This game has had a big line movement since last week, going from 9.5 in favor of Cleveland to 7, largely as a result of a fluky Jacksonville win making everyone forget how awful they’ve been this season. Teams are 46-68 ATS off of a win as double digits underdogs since 1989, including 25-44 ATS as dogs off of a win as double digit underdogs. You could argue we’re actually getting line value with the Browns and the public is actually all over the dog here.
On the other hand, you could argue some of the line movement had to do with the fact that the Browns have to play Brandon Weeden under center this week. Weeden has been a special kind of terrible this season, completing 51.5% of his passes for an average of 6.00 YPA, 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. This is probably the first game the Jaguars have played this season where they have the better quarterback. At the end of the day, I’m going to fade Brandon Weeden as touchdown favorites over anyone and go with the 34-69 ATS and 9-25 ATS trends, but I’m not that confident because the Jaguars are one of the worst teams of the past 20 years.
Cleveland Browns 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Pick against spread: Jacksonville +7