Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)
As I’ve mentioned many times before, I love fading significant week-to-week line movements, as they are usually the result of overreaction to one game, which creates line value. We have a case of that here as the Browns went from 4 home point favorites in the early line last week to 2 point home underdogs this week. It’s obvious why that happened, as the Browns lost 31-10 in New York to the Jets and the Titans won 42-14 in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers. However, I still think it’s an overreaction.
The Browns’ passing game is a serious problem, but they still have a top-5 offensive line and an above average defense. That wasn’t clear last week because the Browns turned it over 5 times, en route to a -4 turnover margin, but turnover margins are very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. In fact, over the past 25 or so years, teams that post a -4 turnover margin in a game, on average, have a +0.1 turnover margin the following week.
Common bettors put too much stock into week-to-week turnover margin and, for that reason, they think the Browns are one of the worst few teams in the league, which is what this line suggests. I don’t think that’s true. In fact, I think that they are, in terms of talent level, comparable to the Titans, especially since the Titans will be without top cornerback Jason McCourty for the 2nd straight week. I had them both with a similar amount of wins going into the season, in my season previews.
The Titans are better at the quarterback position and coming off of a huge win, but they still have their fair share of problems and I don’t expect them to play as well as they did against the hapless Buccaneers every week. We’re getting a good amount of line value with the Browns as 1.5 point home underdogs. On top of that, home underdogs are 54-36 ATS since 1989 off of a loss as underdogs in which they had a -4 or worse turnover margin, largely as a result of public overreaction to single week turnover margins.
The Browns are also in a way better spot, with arguably their easiest game of the season on deck, with the Oakland Raiders coming to town. Meanwhile, the Titans have a much tougher and much more important matchup on deck as they host the 2-time defending AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts, in a game where the Titans will almost certainly be home underdogs (the early line is at 3.5). Teams are 65-103 ATS as home underdogs of a field goal or more since 2012. In addition, road favorites are 78-120 ATS since 1989 before being home underdogs, including 19-29 ATS as non-divisional road favorites before being divisional home underdogs. With the Browns at home and the Titans in a bad spot, I really like the Browns’ chances of winning this game against a comparable opponent and I’ll take the two points with a good amount of confidence. This would be my Pick of the Week if I had any sort of faith in Johnny Manziel.
Cleveland Browns 17 Tennessee Titans 13 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +2