New York Jets (2-5) at Cleveland Browns (0-7)
The Browns host the NFC leading Cowboys next week, a game in which the early line has them as 7 point home underdogs. Teams tend to struggle before being big home underdogs, going 95-173 ATS since 2008 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more, as big upcoming home games like that tend to be major distractions. However, teams that are 0-7 or worse are actually 10-4 ATS in that spot over that time period. The Browns enter this game as the NFL’s only winless team at 0-7.
Believe it or not, betting on winless teams this late in the season has actually been a winning bet in the past, as teams that are 0-7 or worse are 50-22 ATS since 1989 as underdogs. Winless teams understandably tend to be undervalued and I think that’s the case in this game, as the Browns are 3 point home underdogs against the Jets. The Browns enter this game dead last in first down percentage differential, but the Jets are just one spot better in 31st. The Jets’ record is obviously better at 2-5, but the 3 of the Browns’ 7 losses came by 6 or fewer points and they could easily have a couple wins at this point.
The Browns also get veteran quarterback Josh McCown back from injury this week, which is a bit of a boost, as he’s probably the best quarterback on their roster. They also get top cornerback Joe Haden back, though they are still missing several talented players with injury (left guard Joel Bitonio, wide receiver Corey Coleman, etc.). On paper, the Jets are the more talented team here, but I love getting the field goal with the Browns at home here, especially since about 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or fewer. I’d still take them at 2.5, but I’d be much less confident in them at that number.
Cleveland Browns 23 New York Jets 20 Upset Pick +125
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3