Cleveland Browns’ Nightmarish Season Also Nightmare for Vegas Oddsmakers

Posted on: December 18, 2016, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: December 16, 2016, 01:29h.

Cleveland Browns Vegas oddsmakers
It will take a “Hail Mary” type of event for the Cleveland Browns to avoid going winless this year. (Image: Joshua Gunter/The Plain Dealer)

The Cleveland Browns are perfect this NFL season, as the troubled franchise has ran off 13 straight losses. At 0-13, the Browns are three losses away from becoming just the second team in NFL history to go 0-16.

To add shame to Cleveland’s disgrace, the team lost all four of its preseason games as well. The 2008 Detroit Lions are the only other NFL team to lose every game in a full season.

In Las Vegas, oddsmakers are struggling to protect their books as gamblers line up to take the spread on the Browns game. Westgate SuperBook Assistant Manager Ed Salmons tells ESPN that he writes at least one max limit bet each week against the Browns right as the spreads are released.

“It’s hard to be that bad and not cover,” Salmons explains. “Because the spreads get so inflated, it’s really hard not to cover.”

But the Browns are the New England Patriots of losing, and they’re really good at getting the job done. Cleveland has covered the Vegas spread just two times this year, a shocking statistic considering they’re a severe underdog in every game they play.

Cleveland travels to Buffalo to take on the Bills today. The Browns are being spotted 10 points, and the ESPN Football Power Index gives them an 11.2 percent chance of topping the 6-7 Bills.

The Browns recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of their last win, which came back on December 13, 2015.

First Come, First Win

Vegas oddsmakers dictate point spreads, but the lines can fluctuate based on high levels of betting. The Browns have basically been a “free bingo spot” for sports bettors, which is why gamblers are rushing to get the opening spreads that tend to give the smallest allowance of points to Cleveland.

As more bettors take the Browns, oddsmakers adjust their spreads to make additional bets more in their favor.

Once their AFC North rival, the Browns game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) last month was a perfect example of the “Dog Pound’s” ineptness. After opening as a 9.5-point underdog in Pittsburgh, bettors so heavily wagered against Cleveland that the line dropped to just eight points.

Late in the fourth quarter, Cleveland was going to lose, but was at least positioned to cover the spread. Then backup quarterback Josh McCown fumbled the ball in his own end zone that resulted in a Steelers touchdown with just 3:36 remaining. All bets on the Steelers paid.

Winless Propositions

Spreads allow sportsbooks to keep offering lines on the Browns, even though they keep hurting Vegas oddsmakers’ bottom lines. The prop bet no bookie wants to make is taking wagers on whether Cleveland will pull off the not-so-perfect season.

But some online books are taking their chances.

Sports Interaction is basically offering even money on the possibility, with “Yes,” the Browns will lose 16 games at +105. That same line was +2000 after the Browns started 0-4.

ESPN Analytics give the Browns a 0.3 percent of winning their final three games, and a 53.9 percent of losing all three.