Cleveland Browns (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time:Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia, PA
by Jason Green, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLE +4 / PHILLY -4
Over/Under Total: 41
Well, the first week of the NFL is here and to say the Browns and the Eagles are not the same teams they were last season would be like saying Tom Brady is a pretty good QB. Yeah, major understatement. Robert Griffin III takes over under center for the Browns and the Eagles are going with a new head coach and a rookie QB in Carson Wentz, who was the 2nd pick of the last draft.
The Browns have high hopes for RG3 and can he rebound and lead the team after not taking a single snap last season? He won the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year and led the Redskins to the playoffs, but can he regain that form. He inherits a Cleveland team that only ranked 30th in the league last season averaging 17.4 ppg. The Browns used their 1st round pick in the draft to nab Corey Coleman and TE Gary Barnbridge had over 1,000 receiving yards last season, but the WR corps is still very thin.
Not only does RG3 come to Cleveland with a less than stellar WR corps, but his lead RB is Isaiah Crowell , who only rushed for 706 yards last season. Oh yeah, the Browns’ D only ranked 29th in the league last season on offense and that is a major concern since RG3 may have to light up the scoreboard for the Browns to have a chance with their defensive issues. Speaking of the Cleveland defense they did not rank in the top 21 in the league last year against the pass or the run.
These teams have not met since the 2012 season in Cleveland when the Eagles beat the Browns 17-16. The Browns covered the spread in the game as a home underdog, but last season Cleveland was only 1-7 on the road and they have only covered the spread in 1 of their last 5 road games.
The Eagles showed that the Wentz era is here not only drafting him with the 2nd pick, but trading away Sam Bradford a week ago. He was named the starter for this game even though he was less than impressive in the preseason and was injured as well. There will be a lot of pressure on RB Ryan Matthews, who averaged a legit 5.1 yards per carry last season backing up DeMarco Murray, who is now with the Titans. One thing Wentz does not have is a proven WR corps, which is where there is even more pressure on Mathews, who will be leaned on heavily in this non-conference game.
While the Browns only had 1 win on the road last season the Eagles were only 3-5 in their house last season and they have failed to cover the spread in 1 of their last 5 home games.
The Cleveland defense really struggled last season and may be the weakness of the team this season. However, in this season opener in the City of Brotherly Love they will be facing a rookie QB from an FCS school, a running game that has major issues, and a less than stellar WR corps. RG3 has shown the past he can pull out some magic, but that was a couple of seasons ago. Is he back to being at full strength? Can he perform with a cast that does not inspire fear in a defense? Those are both big questions entering this game.
In looking at a few other betting trends the Browns have only covered the spread in 2 of their last 10 games, but they have started the season strong as of late going 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games in September. While the Eagles have only covered the spread in 1 of their last 5 games in September they have covered the spread in their last 4 games facing the Browns. Still, I am going to buck that trend, as I think RG3 will have a solid game and Cleveland will not only cover, but win as well.
Jason's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Browns +4
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