Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons: 2022 Week 4 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

The Falcons were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league this season and they may still end up there, but they have exceeded expectations through the first three games of the season, particularly on offense, where they rank 2nd in first down rate and 7th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, which are among the most predictive stats week-to-week. I don’t expect them to be that good all season, but they should have a favorable matchup this week against a Browns defense that ranks 18th in both yards per play allowed and first down rate allowed, despite playing well below average offenses in all three games thus far this season. 

When adjusted for schedule, the Browns rank just 31st in defensive efficiency and it’s possible the Falcons, even if they ultimately end up being a mediocre offense, are still the toughest offense the Browns have faced thus far these season by default, having played the Panthers (32nd in offensive efficiency), Jets (31st), and Steelers (27th) in the first three weeks of the season. Making matters worse, the Browns will be without a pair of key defenders Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Walker and could be without their most important defender, Myles Garrett, who didn’t practice all week after a car accident.

The Browns should move the ball pretty well in this game though, entering this game ranked 6th in first down rate and 3rd in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency against a Falcons defense that is mediocre at best. The Browns are on the road, but my roster rankings have them about three points better than the Falcons, even without their key defenders, so this line favoring the Browns by a point is about right. I’m taking the Falcons for now, but if Garrett ends up playing and this line doesn’t move drastically, I will probably change my pick. This is a really close one and Garrett’s presence, even at less than 100%, would be huge for the Browns’ defense.

Atlanta Falcons 27 Cleveland Browns 26

Pick against the spread: Atlanta +1

Confidence: None

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