Let’s face the facts: this has been a pretty crappy NFL season overall. And not just for Browns fans but for the league as a whole.
Outside of the Broncos there isn’t a super compelling team that is polarizing because of its dominance on one side of the ball. And even with the Broncos there’s an air of “Let’s wait and see how Peyton does in the playoffs” that surrounds that team. The Chiefs are the only remaining unbeaten team and no one is exactly sure how good they actually are since they haven’t played anyone good yet. There aren’t any great rookies like RG3, Luck, and Wilson last year. There isn’t a dominant running back that’s churning up yards. It seems like there’s several season-ending injuries to key players every week. It’s just not a ton of fun.
But we’re only about half-way through the season so let’s hope it can turn around. And let’s hope that I can build off of a positive week last week picking games and roll it over to consecutive weeks of solid prognostication for a change. Here are the picks…
(Home team in CAPS. Lines from SportsBook.com. Gamble at your own risk.)
CHIEFS (-7.5) over BROWNS
It’s important to note that I use SportsBooks.com’s lines because they have the line for this game lower than other sites like Bovada who has it at -9. I’ll gladly take the extra point and a half of cushion.
Look, I have no faith whatsoever in Jason Campbell. As much as people have screamed and cursed Brandon Weeden, I’d still rather see him out there than Campbell because you’re not going anywhere with Campbell. He is what he is, and that’s a journeyman who’s proven that he’s not a good quarterback. With Weeden you at least have the hope that he can better since he’s only 20 games into his career.
When Campbell has been successful in his career it’s been with the aid of a strong running game. His best season as a starter in Washington was 2008 when they finished 8-8 behind the strength of Clinton Portis and a plus-1400 yard rushing season. But in 2009 Portis struggled with injuries and Campbell’s Skins fell back down to 4-12. In his two seasons in Oakland, Campbell saw periods of winning amidst his own injuries. But again those wins were almost always fueled by a healthy Darren McFadden. When McFadden wasn’t fully healthy and running well they struggled.
Unfortunately for Campbell, he won’t have the strength of a good running game to lean on this Sunday. The Browns haven’t been very productive running the football this season at all no matter who is in the backfield. I still think that my guy Chris Ogbonnnaya should see more snaps because good things happen when he’s in the game but hey, go ahead and keep throw Fozzy out there.
Since he won’t have a good running game Campbell should try to replicate what Hoyer did to find some success and that’s getting the ball out quick mostly on three-step drops. It doesn’t make for a super explosive offense and sometimes you have to hit the underneath guys just to pick up something but it’ll keep them in the game.
Unfortunately I don’t think that’s who Campbell is. He’s more of an air it out kind of QB in the mold of Weeden which probably won’t work well this week going up against the Chiefs and their 3rd ranked pass defense.
Defensively I’d like to think that the Browns will keep it close since they’ve been pretty stout on that side of the ball. But Jamaal Charles will be a real test much like we saw against Reggie Bush and that didn’t turn out too well.
Most indicators, such as the Chiefs only winning by one point last week against the reeling Texans, point to this being a close game. But I just don’t trust Jason Campbell and wouldn’t be shocked to see him throw multiple interceptions in this one. My magic 8 ball says the outlook is bleak for the Browns this week and the rest of the season.
Also it’s a good idea to roll out Campbell’s stat line from his last NFL start (also against a tough defense), just in case you haven’t seen it yet: 14-22, 107 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 6 sacks, 52.7 RAT, 5.8 QBR, 32-7 loss to San Francisco.
49ers (-15.5) over JAGUARS
We just keep sending our crap to England. At least they’ll get to see Kaepernick.
LIONS (-3) over Cowboys
This should be a pretty good game to watch as an alternative to the debacle that will be Browns/Chiefs. It’s tough to say what each of these teams are going to do every week. They’re both very similar in that they can have those inexplicable cold weeks where they just look terrible. With that said, I just feel better about the Lions offense than I do about the Cowboys. That’s what it comes down to for me that makes the difference.
Giants (+5) over EAGLES
I was going to pick the Eagles until I remembered that they put up an astounding 3 points last week. THREE. No team that is only able to score three points in an NFL game should be favored by more than that the next week. And who knows? Maybe the Giants have turned a corner after getting their first win of the season. I like that Michael Vick is back out there instead of Nick Foles, but five points is just too many.
Bills (+11.5) over SAINTS
I’m going to ride the Thaddy Lew train till he lets me down!!! Seriously though, I think the Saints are a really good team and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But that’s a lot of points against a Bills team that’s been frisky the past two weeks under Lewis. If nothing else I expect Thaddeus to score a late backdoor cover TD.
Dolphins (+7) over PATRIOTS
I’m too lazy to check but I don’t think I’ve picked a single Patriots game right this season. Their offense is so up and down and it really just doesn’t seem like they bring it every week. Last week was impressive so I almost expect some sort of a let-down this week against a division rival. I don’t expect Ryan Tannehill to go into New England and win, but I expect a close game.
BENGALS (-6) over Jets
Here’s a fun tid-bit: Cincinnati is 3-0 at home this season against the spread. But the Jets are actually 5-2 overall and 2-1 on the road ATS themselves. Something has to give!!!
I like the Bengals defense against the rookie QB this week. I think they’ll force him to make some mistakes and put the Bengals in good field position. Also the Bengals offense just looks so much better at home than they do on the road. I like them by a touchdown.
RAIDERS (+2.5) over Steelers
You have to excuse me, but I’m not sold on the two-game-winning-streak Steelers as actually being good just yet. They’ve beat the Jets and the Ravens. This week they have to go across the country to play the elusive Terrelle Pryor. I actually really like the Raiders coming off a bye in this matchup as I’m not sure the Steelers will be able to contain Pryor. They just don’t have the defense that they used to back in the day.
Bravehearts (+13) over BRONCOS
Robert Griffin may just be slowly morphing back into RG3. He was really good last week and looked like shades of his former self. The Broncos on the other hand have failed to cover two weeks in a row, including losing last week (in case you didn’t already know about that game…kinda went under the radar). The Washington defense is so bad so it’s not out of the question for the Broncos to put up 50 this week. But I like the Redskins running game to control the pace of the game and keep them within reasonable range. I don’t expect them to win by any means and it may take a late TD to cover, but that’s a huge spread against a team that just put up 45 points a week ago.
CARDINALS (-2) over Falcons
Arizona can be pretty tough at home and the Falcons just plain stink at this point. That’s all I have to say about this game. No really cares do they?
Packers (-9.5) over VIKINGS
It’s the return of Christian Ponder!!!
It might be hard to fathom but the Vikings QB situation may just be even more screwed up than the Browns. Right now they’ve got three guys who all were kinda/sorta good once upon a time but now just really kinda/sorta stink. I think they should give each guy a quarter and whoever has done the best in their given quarter gets to play the fourth. That would be fun at least.
Hey the Browns don’t have much in the way QBs, but at least we think we have a guy who might be competent backup going forward. That is of course if you think two games of mediocre QB play is a large enough sample size to decide that Hoyer is “good enough” to be a backup. And that’s saying a lot for Cleveland QBs.
Also relevant to the discussion of this game: Aaron Rodgers.
Seahawks (-12) over RAMS
I didn’t feel great about this pick until I looked up who would be playing quarterback for the Rams: Kellen Clemens.
I’m good with it.
LAST WEEK: 8-6
BROWNS PICKS: 2-5Follow @ClevelandFlack