Sunday Night NFL Betting — Will This Be Graduation Day For the Browns?


Are the Cleveland Browns quite at the point where they are ready to challenge the elite teams of the NFL? Will Sunday night’s encounter go toward providing an answer in that regard? And is that even an appropriate question to ask?

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The Browns face off against the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams in the NBC-televised game that begins at 8:20 PM ET. At BetAnySports you can stay in the action even after the kickoff by accessing Live Betting Ultra.

The Browns would obviously like to forget their opener, in which Baker Mayfield tossed three interceptions, but of course one has to question whether they washed that away with a win over a New York Jets team that was down to its third-string quarterback.

The bottom line is that they did what had to be done, and they provided some thrills with Odell Beckham’s 89-yard catch-and-run.

The Rams got a short-arming Cam Newton and a second-stringer in Teddy Bridgewater in their first two games, so they may be facing their biggest test yet.

Need we mention that the atmosphere at FirstEnergy Stadium is going to be electric?

Here are the numbers on this Sunday night game:

Los Angeles Rams -3.5 (-101)
Cleveland Browns +3.5 (-109)

Over 47 points (-105)
Under 47 points (-105)

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For what it’s worth, no team has forced three-and-outs from the opponent more frequently than the Browns have (37.5%), and they would seem to have the pass rushers necessary to get in Jared Goff’s face. But this offense is designed for Goff to get rid of it in a hurry.

We realize this is a small sampling, but the Rams have an absurdly low figure of yards allowed per pass attempt (5.5). We imagine that the Browns can stretch that out a bit.

Look – I can’t help but like Baker Mayfield and the confident personality he brings to the proceedings. Yes, he has shown some combustibility in that debacle (43-13 loss) against Tennessee, but you have to admire someone who has walked on to not one, but two major football programs (Texas Tech, Oklahoma) and won a starting job. And he doesn’t appear to be a guy who’s going to fold just because the pressure is too great.

What he does have a tendency to do is hold onto the football a little too long. So this Rams pass rush, particularly with Aaron Donald coming down the middle, is a big concern. So even though tight end David Njoku has been placed on injured reserve, maybe it’s not so bad a deal that Demetrius Harris gets the call, because he’s not a bad pass blocker.

What’s important to remember here is that it’s quite possible that the Browns have the ammunition to keep the Rams very honest on defense. We could go back and research this, but we doubt there have been more than a couple of teams which have allowed 5.1 yards per rush (as the Rams did last year) and still made it to a Super Bowl. Until further notice, we’d hand the ball off to Nick Chubb and see what he can do.

Goff was undoubtedly flustered in that Super Bowl game against New England, and maybe that exposed his limitations as a quarterback. But the fact is that he still distributes the ball pretty well, and he’s got tackles who can help mitigate the effect of the Cleveland pass rush.

The “hook” on this game looks kind of attractive, but I still have my doubts about whether the Browns can graduate to this level. The Rams have weapons – including leading receiver Cooper Kupp, who got injured last year, and of course Todd Gurley – and they can also compete with anyone on special teams. They play the “pace” game as well, with the quickest time between plays in “neutral” situations. I’ll tell you this much, though – if Mayfield goes down, he’s going down swinging. As long as they can run the ball some, the OVER doesn’t look too bad.

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