Denver Broncos (5-0) at Cleveland Browns (2-3)
The Broncos are 5-0, but are not a convincing 5-0, playing a schedule that hasn’t been that tough, Baltimore, Kansas City, Detroit, Minnesota, and Oakland and not pretty beating any of those teams with much ease. They rank just 12th in rate of moving the chains differential. Cleveland isn’t that good, but they’re not awful either, ranking 22nd in rate of moving the chains differential. They do have a solid chance to keep this one close and cover as 4.5 point home underdogs here.
However, I do expect the Broncos to be more focused than they’ve been all year in this one, ahead of a bye week. I mentioned in the Packers/Chargers write up that 6+ point home favorites going into the bye are 59-19 ATS since 2002. The Broncos, unfortunately, are not at home for this one, but 3+ point road favorites are still 38-23 ATS going into a bye, for the same reason. It’s not as powerful of a trend as the other one, but the logic behind both is the same.
The Broncos are without outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware in this one, but they’ll plug in first round pick Shane Ray and the Browns will also be without cornerback Joe Haden and safety Tashaun Gipson. Neither of those two has been playing well, but those injuries definitely hurt their chances of turning their disappointing defense around this week. I’ll be going with the Broncos, but I’m not confident at all. As I mentioned, the Broncos haven’t played that well this season and the Browns could keep this close. On top of that, the Browns are in a good spot off of an overtime win as road underdogs. Teams are 34-23 ATS since 2002 in that spot. This won’t be easy for Denver.
Denver Broncos 19 Cleveland Browns 13
Pick against the spread: Denver -4.5