Cleveland Browns NFL Betting Preview: Starting Over Again

Posted on: August 20, 2020, 06:59h. 

Last updated on: August 20, 2020, 10:05h.

The Cleveland Browns couldn’t take the heat, so they got out of the Kitchens. But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. In fact, under coach Freddie Kitchens, it appeared the Browns had something cooking. At this time last year, they were +1,500 to win the Super Bowl, the seventh-best odds in the league.

Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield
It was a confusing season for quarterback Baker Mayfield, in particular, and the Cleveland Browns, in general, as they finished 6-10 in 2019. (Image: Scott Galvin/USA TODAY Sports)

After adding standout veterans — Odell Beckham, Olivier Vernon, Kareem Hunt, and Sheldon Richardson — during a busy off-season, Kitchens’ Browns looked just like the team under Hue Jackson, Mike Pettine, Rob Chudzinski, Pat Shurmur, Eric Mangini, and Romeo Crennel.

Kitchens appeared to be in over his head and touted quarterback Baker Mayfield took a step backward in his second season. Cleveland missed the playoffs for the 17th consecutive season, and Kitchens was fired following a foul-tasting 6-10 season.

Enter Kevin Stefanski, the latest coach tasked with rescuing the Browns from the fryer. Unlike last year, there’s not much hype surrounding the Browns. They are +4,000 to win the Super Bowl, according to William Hill.

Over/Under: 8.5 Wins

If Stefanski can put together a winning game plan and keep everyone pointed in the right direction, the Browns should be good. That’s especially true on offense, where there is a lot of talent surrounding Mayfield.

Running back Nick Chubb had a breakout season, with almost 1,500 rushing yards. Beckham and Jarvis Landry are one of the top receiver duos, and they’re loaded at tight end with Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and rookie Harrison Bryant. Plus, they added standout right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency to solidify the line.

The consensus over/under on Cleveland’s win total is 8.5, with -110 on both sides of the ledger at FanDuel.

Hitting even that modest win total would represent a breakthrough for a franchise that hasn’t posted a winning record since going 10-6 in 2007.

The Browns had a ton of momentum going into last year, and seemed to have the talent to compete at the highest level,” John Sheeran, FanDuel’s director of risk and trading, told

“However, after a disappointing year from Baker and, in particular, Odell Beckham Jr., it’s hard to see how the Browns make the Super Bowl. That, combined with the strength of the division, with the Steelers and Ravens being two of the top teams in the NFL, it’s going to very hard for the Browns.”

Powered by MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, Baltimore is the overwhelming favorite to win the AFC North, with the Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers a solid second. At FanDuel, the Browns are +480 to win the North, well behind Pittsburgh’s +340 in the battle for second. The gap is even wider at DraftKings, where Pittsburgh is +350 and Cleveland is +550.

Starts with Mayfield

Cleveland’s chances will rest on the right arm of Mayfield. The first pick of the 2018 draft, he posted an impressive 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and 93.7 passer rating as a rookie. Last year, however, was a definite regression, with 22 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, and a 78.8 rating.

It will be up to Stefanski, who is seventh on FanDuel’s Coach of the Year list at +2,000, to get Mayfield pointed in the right direction.

As simple as it sounds, so long as Mayfield throws to the guys wearing the orange helmets, the Browns should be in the playoff mix. Not only is there a lot of talent on offense, but their defensive front four is powerful, with ends Myles Garrett and Vernon and tackles Larry Ogunjobi and Richardson.

Garrett — who had 10 sacks despite being suspended for the final six games of the season after clocking Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with his helmet — is seventh on the Defensive Player of the Year board at PointsBet at +1,600.

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth of 32 NFL team previews and concludes a look at the four-team AFC North. Up next: The NFC East.