Expectations were probably too high last season for the Cleveland Browns. Maybe the calls for a big season were just a year early. The key here is improvement from the offensive line. They used their first-round pick on offensive tackle Jedrick Wills out of Alabama. The pieces are already in place, right? Between Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., David Njoku, Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry, there’s enough offense to compete with any team in the league. Of course, if Baker Mayfield isn’t protected well by the line, he won’t be able to connect with his playmakers and keep drives alive. The Browns had an awful time last season stringing together first downs.
William Hill lists Cleveland’s over/under at 8.5 wins with over as the slight +100 underdog and -120 juice on the under.
Winning nine games isn’t asking a lot; however, Cleveland is coming off of 12 consecutive losing seasons. The franchise opted to clean house by removing GM John Dorsey at the end of the 2019 season. In addition, they fired head coach Freddie Kitchens and brought on former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski as head coach.
In these situations, I am often concerned about a coach having his own vision and set of ideal players to work within his system. Competition within a team’s depth chart is healthy, but too many guys losing their starting spot can adversely affect chemistry and trust within the locker room.
I’m going to err on the side of history and recommend the under.
Stats to Know
- Baker Mayfield allowed the second-most interceptions (21) in the league while failing to gain his expected momentum in completion rate (59.4 – 68.5 percent in his college career).
- Nick Chubb slipped to second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,494) in 2019 after coming up short in Week 16 (15/45) and Week 17 (13/41). He led the RB position in runs over 20 yards (11).
- Last year Odell Beckham scored a career-low 12.69 fantasy points per game, which ranked 25th on the NFL. His catch rate (55.6) is well below his rookie season (70.0) while ranking at the bottom of his career average.
- The Browns’ TEs finished 30th in catches (41) and 26th in receiving yards (497), but they did score eight touchdowns (5th).
- Cleveland’s defense gave up the third-most rushing yards (2,318) with runners gaining 5.00 yards per carry (30th).