Cleveland Browns (0-0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)
I’ve gone back and forth on this one all week. On one hand, the line didn’t move from last week to this week, despite the Saints losing at home to the Buccaneers and the Browns tying the Steelers. The Saints remain 9.5 point favorites. On the other hand, that line seems about right. The Saints’ defense struggled mightily in the opener, but their offense played very well and they actually had an overall positive first down rate differential at +2.54%. The Buccaneers got a return touchdown, but the Saints and Buccaneers had an even amount of first downs and offensive touchdowns (26 and 5) and the Saints did it on 3 fewer plays.
The Browns aren’t in a good spot here either, as they just played close to 5 quarters and will have to turn around and play again in 4 days on Thursday Night Football at home against the Jets. The Browns are being cautious with their injured players this week as a result, with both wide receiver Josh Gordon, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, and linebacker Christian Kirksey already ruled out. The Saints aren’t in a good spot either, as the face the Falcons in Atlanta next week, but they should be focused after last week’s loss. This is a no confidence pick and the Browns could easily keep it close or get a garbage time backdoor cover, but the Saints are the pick here for pick ‘em pool purposes.
New Orleans Saints 34 Cleveland Browns 24
Pick against the spread: New Orleans -9.5