Cleveland Browns (0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-0)
When the Eagles traded away Sam Bradford 8 days before the start of the season last Saturday, that dropped this spread from 6.5 or 7 to 3.5, where it still stands now. Trading away Bradford definitely hurts this team, as you hate switching quarterbacks that close to the start of the season and Bradford showed himself to be a capable starter this season, but this line seems way too low. Plus, Bradford will be replaced by the #2 overall pick in the draft, Carson Wentz, so the Eagles might still be in capable hands, even if he does have growing pains as a rookie.
The Eagles don’t have a ton of skill position talent around him, but Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, and Darren Sproles give Wentz a trio of solid options in the passing game, while both Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham have potential in their 2nd years in the league and running back Ryan Mathews has been successful as a feature back in the past when he’s been healthy, which he currently is. They also have a strong offensive line, especially with right tackle Lane Johnson allowed to play while appealing his suspension, and the defense should be much improved this season with several off-season additions and Jim Schwartz coming in as defensive coordinator.
They’re certainly much, much better than Cleveland, who was one of the worst teams in the league last season and could be even worse in 2016. They finished last year 4th worst in rate of moving the chains differential and lost 11 starters this off-season. Not all of the players they lost were good, but guys like Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Desmond Bryant, Karlos Dansby, and Donte Whitner will be missed. They did add some players, including quarterback Robert Griffin, who still has upside in his age 26 season, and they had a good draft, but this is arguably the worst roster in the NFL. Carson Wentz has a chance to have a great game against the Browns’ terrible defense. This line suggests that these two teams are essentially even, which is not remotely true. Even though 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less, I don’t like the Browns’ chances of even keeping this one close, so I have no problem laying the 3.5 with the Eagles.
Philadelphia Eagles 27 Cleveland Browns 17
Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3.5