San Francisco 49ers (4-8) at Cleveland Browns (2-10)
The Browns have the league’s worst record, so the public seems to be confused why they’re favored here, at home against the 49ers, as the public is all over the visitor. I’m confused why they’re not favored by more. They were favored by a field goal a week ago on the early line. I love fading significant line movements whenever it makes sense and I love fading the public whenever it makes sense. It makes sense to do both here, so the Browns are an intriguing side.
They’re a better team than the 49ers, ranking 30th, as opposed to 32nd for San Francisco. That might not seem like a big difference, but the 49ers are so far into last place that the Browns are closer to 17th than last. Given that, it doesn’t make any sense why the line moved off of 3 (even with talented guard Joel Bitonio now out for the season with the Browns), considering about 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal or less. I actually think the Browns should be favored by more than a field goal and that the 49ers overtime win in Chicago was a fluke, so, while teams are 56-44 ATS since 2002 after winning on the road in overtime, we’re still getting enough line value with the Browns to compensate.
The Browns are in a tough spot with a trip to Seattle on deck, for a game in which the early line has them as 13.5 point road underdogs. Teams are 88-145 ATS since 2008 before being double digit underdogs, including 17-31 ATS as favorites. However, the 49ers also have a very tough game on deck, as the early line has them as 7 point underdogs at home for the Bengals next week. Teams are 42-88 ATS before being 7+ point home underdogs, since 2008. As long as the line stays under 3, the Browns should be the right side.
Cleveland Browns 19 San Francisco 49ers 13
Pick against the spread: Cleveland -1.5