Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (6-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)

Typically, it is not a good idea to bet on teams who will be big home underdogs in their next game, as teams tend to struggle before a big home game, going 39-67 ATS since 2014 before being 4.5+ point home underdogs. The early line has the Browns as 6.5 point home underdogs against the Ravens next week. However, the Browns are in desperation mode at 0-12, so I’m not sure if that trend really applies. On the other side, the Packers may see this as an easy win before they get Aaron Rodgers back for the playoff push next week and may not give their best effort as a result.

Even if they do give good effort, I’m not convinced this will be an easy win for the Packers. Brett Hundley is legitimately one of the worst quarterbacks to start for an extended period of time this season. The Packers covered in a near victory as 14-point underdogs in Pittsburgh two weeks ago and beat the Buccaneers last week, but they lost the first down battle 28-15 against the Steelers and 25-16 against the Buccaneers, a mediocre team that they needed overtime to beat at home. In 7 games with Hundley under center, the Packers have won the first down rate battle just once, on the road, in Chicago, which isn’t that impressive.

On the season, the Packers rank just 18th in first down rate differential at -0.61%, despite having Rodgers for the first 5 games of the season. Part of that is because of injuries on defense, but they remain banged up on that side of the field in this one, with starting cornerbacks Kevin King and Davon House out and outside linebacker Nick Perry questionable after missing practice all week. That’s actually only 5 spots ahead of the Browns, who rank 23rd at -2.35%.

The Browns obviously haven’t won any games, but their defense hasn’t been bad and their offense has been putting together some drives. The issue for them has been turnovers as they rank dead last in turnover margin at -19. Turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but it hasn’t been for the Browns because they’ve been at a significant disadvantage quarterback wise in every game they’ve played. This week they won’t be, so they could easily play turnover neutral football and pull the upset, especially given how good recently reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon looked in his debut last week. Even if they don’t win their first game of the season this week, I like their chances of covering this 3.5 point spread, given that 25% of games are decided by a field goal or less.

Cleveland Browns 20 Green Bay Packers 19 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3.5

Confidence: High

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (0-11) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

The Chargers have been underrated for a while, but the public seems to be finally catching on. They started 0-4, but 3 of those 4 losses came by 3 points or fewer, including 2 in which they missed makeable field goals. They’ve also played better on the road than at home this season, going 3-2 with close losses to the Patriots and Jaguars, as opposed to 2-4 at home, but that’s not a huge surprise, considering they have no home fans in Los Angeles. Despite that, they rank 10th in the league in point differential and 5th in the league in first down rate differential. They could easily be 7-4 or 8-3 right now with better luck in close games and an actual homefield advantage.

That being said, I think this line is actually too high at 13.5. The Chargers still likely won’t have much of homefield advantage and I don’t think they’re 12-13 points better than the Browns. The Browns obviously haven’t won all season, but their defense has played better in recent weeks with Jason McCourty and Myles Garrett back healthy, while the offense gets Josh Gordon back this week after getting Corey Coleman back a few weeks ago, much needed additions to a once paper-thin receiving corps. Deshone Kizer is such a bad quarterback that he might screw it all up again, but the Browns have a good chance to keep this one close if they can avoid turning it over too much.

Los Angeles Chargers 20 Cleveland Browns 10

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +13.5

Confidence: Low

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (0-10) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)

The Bengals are in a terrible spot here, as they could look past the winless Browns with a huge home game against the Steelers on deck. Teams are just 36-67 ATS since 2014 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more, as big upcoming home games tend to present a major distraction for teams, and the Bengals are +7 currently on the early line. On top of that, favorites of 6+ like the Bengals are here are just 55-90 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs of 6 or more. Picking the Browns has been a pretty bad idea over the past couple years, as they’ve covered in just 4 of their last 20 games, but that’s pretty adequately priced into this line, as the Bengals as favored by 8 points, my exact calculated line. This is a no confidence pick, especially since the Browns have another tough game against the Chargers on deck, but this could be a major trap game for the Bengals, so Cleveland is my pick in pick ‘em pools. I can’t take them for any confidence though, as they could easily be down by 7 late and allow a return touchdown or screw up some other way.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 Cleveland Browns 13

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +8

Confidence: None

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns: 2017 Week 11 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-9)

The Browns led the Lions 24-17 in the 3rd quarter last week, despite allowing a return touchdown earlier in the game and getting no points out of a goal line opportunity at the end of the half, but they ended up losing 38-24 when the Lions scored three straight touchdowns. Despite numerous screw ups, the game was one of their best of their winless season. One of the reasons for that is that their defense was fully healthy coming out of the bye, after defensive end Myles Garrett, outside linebacker Jamie Collins, and cornerback Jason McCourty all missed time in the first half of the season.

Collins unfortunately got hurt again last week and now is out for the season, but he wasn’t playing that well, so the Browns still have a decent defense out there. They’re obviously not fully healthy on offense without perennial All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, but they do get #1 receiver Corey Coleman back from a 7 game absence this week. The Jaguars, on the other hand, are without a pair of starters on the offensive line, left guard Patrick Omameh and right tackle Jermey Parnell, and stud running back Leonard Fournette is at less than 100% with his ankle injury. Given that, we’re getting some line value with the Browns at +7.5, but not enough to pick them confidently as they still figure to have a major problem scoring on the Jaguars’ tough defense.

Jacksonville Jaguars 16 Cleveland Browns 10

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +7.5

Confidence: Low

Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions: 2017 Week 10 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (0-8) at Detroit Lions (4-4)

The Browns are winless again at 0-8, but the good news is they come out of their bye as healthy as they’ve been all season defensively. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton, defensive end Myles Garrett, linebacker Jamie Collins, and cornerback Jason McCourty are arguably their best defensive players and all 4 of them have missed time so far this season, but all 4 are healthy this week. They still have injury issues on offense with left tackle Joe Thomas out for the season and wide receiver Corey Coleman out at least another week, but the Browns could conceivably play their best game of the season this week.

Given that, I think this line is a little high at 10.5. The Lions are 4-4 and made the playoffs last season, but they are a mediocre team. They finished last season 28th in first down rate and so far rank 23rd this season. They are 13-11 over the past 2 seasons, but their margin of victory has been just 7.00 points per game, with 9 of 13 wins decided by a touchdown or less. They get left tackle Taylor Decker back from injury this week, but he might not be 100% in his first game back and they are expected to be without right guard TJ Lang and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah this week, two key players on the offensive and defensive lines respectively. There’s not enough for me to bet money on the Browns, but I have this line calculated at -8.5, so we’re getting some line value with Cleveland.

Detroit Lions 24 Cleveland Browns 16

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +10.5

Confidence: Low

Minnesota Vikings vs. Cleveland Browns: 2017 Week 8 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (5-2) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-7) in London

At 0-7, the Browns are winless to start the season for the second straight year, after starting last season 0-14. However, they rank 22nd in first down rate differential at -1.65%, so they’ve actually done a pretty decent job of putting together drives compared to their opponents. The problem is they can’t finish those drives, thanks to a league worst -11 turnover margin. Typically, I like to bet on teams with bad turnover margins because turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but the Browns’ quarterback situation is so bad that it’s hard to get excited about betting on them in any situation. On the season, they’ve thrown 17 interceptions (11 by DeShone Kizer, 5 by Kevin Hogan, and 1 by Cody Kessler), while no other team has thrown more than 10, and that is the single biggest factor in their turnover margin.

The Browns also enter this game banged up. They will be without defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Jason McCourty, arguably their two best defensive players this season, as well as left tackle Joe Thomas, their dominant left tackle who will miss the rest of the season after 10,363 consecutive snaps to begin his career. The Vikings are not a great team with Case Keenum under center, but they get Stefon Diggs back from a 2-game absence this week and I have these two teams about 10 points apart in my roster rankings given the injury situation of these two teams.

The Vikings are 9.5 point favorites in this neutral site game in London, so we aren’t really getting line value with them, but the better team does tend to cover in these neutral site games. Favorites are 19-9 ATS in neutral site games since 1989, including 11-1 ATS as favorites of 4 or more. It makes sense that the better team would be better prepared for playing in a weird neutral site overseas game like this. There isn’t enough line value for me to take the Vikings confidently, but they have a good chance to cover this spread.

Minnesota Vikings 24 Cleveland Browns 13

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -9.5

Confidence: Low

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-6)

The Browns rank dead last in the NFL with a -9 turnover margin. Usually I like to bet on teams with bad turnover margins because turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but the Browns’ quarterback situation is so bad that I can’t bet them unless we’re getting a lot of line value. On the season, they’ve thrown 14 interceptions (9 by Kizer and 5 by Hogan), while no other team has thrown more than 8, and that is the single biggest factor in their turnover margin.

I thought we were getting a lot of value last week with the Browns when they were 10-point underdogs against the Texans, who were missing JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, but Kevin Hogan played so bad in his first career start that the Browns didn’t have a chance to compete in that game. The Browns will go back to DeShone Kizer this week, which is probably an upgrade by default, but Kizer has had his own problems turning the ball over and we’re not getting the same value with the Browns that we were getting last week, as they are 6 point home underdogs against the Titans. I have this line calculated at -5.5.

The Browns are also in a tough spot with a trip to London on deck. Teams are just 14-24 ATS all-time before a trip over to London and the Browns have a tough game waiting for them there, as the early line has them as 7.5 point underdogs on the neutral field against the Vikings. Teams are just 52-85 ATS since 2008 as 6+ point underdogs before being 6+ point underdogs again, as it’s very tough for inferior teams to keep it close with a superior team when they have another tough game on deck. I can’t bet on the Titans because of the uncertainty with Marcus Mariota’s injury, but, if he’s close to 100% in his 2nd game back from the hamstring injury, the Titans should win this easily.

Tennessee Titans 24 Cleveland Browns 16

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -6

Confidence: Low