Injuries Starting to Catch Up to Cleveland?
A couple of teams on losing streaks look to turn things around when the Denver Broncos visit the Cleveland Browns to kick off the NFL’s Week 7 slate on Thursday night. The short turnaround for the TNF game doesn’t do Cleveland any favors, as they are battling many injuries at key positions.
This looks like a spot where Denver can get back on track, but oddsmakers don’t necessarily agree. BetOnline and Bovada have opened this game at Cleveland -4.5 (-110), a number that seems like it will drop closer to game time.
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Denver Fading Fast
The Broncos looked like an early AFC championship game contender through the first three weeks of the season, but that might have been a mirage caused by playing the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets. Once the level of competition picked up, we saw the true Denver team as they’ve lost the last three weeks to Baltimore (23-7), Pittsburgh (27-19), and Las Vegas (34-24).
This week it’s a short turnaround for Vic Fangio’s squad as they visit an ailing Browns team. Denver had their worst defensive performance of the season last week when they gave up an 18/27 for 341 yards and 2 TD days to Derek Carr. The Broncos did hold the Raiders to 86 yards rushing on 23 carries, keeping their top-five defense vs. the run intact (85.5 ypg).
If the Broncos can continue to stop the run on Thursday, they’ll take away Cleveland’s biggest asset as the Browns lead the NFL with 168.5 ypg on the ground. RB Nick Chubb missed Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals with a calf injury, and RB Kareem Hunt was also carted off with calf issues of his own. Betting lines haven’t seemed to have been adjusted for these ailments, though.
All on Mayfield Thursday
Cleveland seems like a dangerous team to wager on for week 7 NFL picks. Sure, Denver has had some issues of their own, but the Browns look like they’ll be down to their 3rd and 4th running backs for this contest, putting a lot of pressure on Baker Mayfield, who is banged up in his rights.
Mayfield finished 19/28 for 234 yards and 2TD/1INT on Sunday in Arizona’s 37-14 loss. After aggravating an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, he missed some time after a hit by the Cardinals JJ Watt as Case Keenum came in to go 1/3 for 6 yards. Mayfield was in a sling after the game but has reiterated that he’ll be ready for Thursday night’s game.
The loss was the 2nd straight for the Browns following a 47-42 defeat at the Chargers in week 5. 84 points allowed in the last two games raises some concerns for the Cleveland defense even though they’ve been up against two solid QBs in Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray. Denver QB Teddy Bridgewater threw 3 INTs last week, but he’s also completing 70.2% of his passes on the season.
Broncos at Browns Pick
This is one of the toughest NFL picks of the weekend, and it’s the first game of the slate on Thursday night. The Broncos have lost three in a row since their quality of competition has ramped up, and it’s never easy going on the road in a short week.
That being said, the Cleveland offense is ailing, down two RBs, their best WR in Jarvis Landry (knee), and with Mayfield not 100% with a shoulder injury, albeit in his non-throwing arm. DE’s Myles Garrett and Jadaveon Clowney have also been on the injury report for the last couple of weeks, and it has shown that the Browns gave up 42 ppg the last two games. Don’t overthink this one.
Pick: Broncos +4.5