Cleveland Browns vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Preview and Pick – Week 8 NFL Picks

Cleveland Browns (2-4) +7, 41 O/U at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) -7,
41 O/U, Jacksonville Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla., 4:15 PM Eastern,
Sunday, CBS

by Badger of

Two AFC South teams desperate for a win to try and get back into the
divisional title chase meet in Jacksonville on Sunday when the
Jaguars host the rival Cleveland Browns for a late afternoon tilt in
Jacksonville Stadium.

The Jaguars enter the game well-rested coming off of their bye week.
The Sunday before the Jags made sure the off week would be a good
one, beating Denver 24-17 on the road in the Mile High City. Running
back Maurice Jones-Drew powered the Jaguars to the win over the
Broncos, rushing for 125 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

The Browns come into Sundays game on a down note following a
heartbreaking, 14-11, loss at Washington last weekend. Head coach
Romeo Crennel has been second-guessed all week after his gamble on
fourth-and-goal early in the fourth quarter backfired. Coming away
without any points on that trip doomed the Browns later in the
quarter, as their late comeback fell just three-points short when
kicker Phil Dawsons 54-yard field goal attempt fell short in the
final seconds. The loss ended a mini two-game win streak for the
Browns and made this weeks game versus the Jags a must win if they
have any hopes for a playoff push.

Oddsmakers seem to have this gamed pegged well, since their opening spread of Jacksonville as 7-point favorites has yet to move in either
direction. The over/under total opened at 41 and has moved a half-
point up to 41.5 at a few offshore sportsbooks and the Las
Vegas Hilton as well.

Jacksonvilles offense has struggled this season thanks in part to
the surprising struggles of quarterback David Garrard. Garrard, who
didnt throw an interception until the postseason last year, has
thrown as many interceptions this season as he has touchdowns (four)
and has struggled to an 84.5 quarterback rating. The Jags own the
leagues 22nd-ranked offense (306.5 ypg) and the 22nd-ranked scoring
offense at 20.7 points per game.

Clevelands offense has also experienced a major drop in production rom last year, and shoddy quarterback play is plaguing the Browns as
well. Derek Anderson has the NFLs lowest yards per attempt average
(only 5.4 yards) and has been so efficient with the ball that he also
owns one of the leagues worst quarterback ratings (62.9). If you
would have polled the experts in the preseason chances are nobody
would have said that the Browns would have the 30th-ranked offense,
but thats exactly what they have after six games (30th in total
yards 255.5 ypg; 30th in points scored 15.3 ppg).

While the Jaguars offense has struggled, the defense has also seen its share of trouble and has fallen into the bottom half of the
league by allowing 340.5 yards per game (24th). The lone bright spot
is that they are still doing a decent job of stiffening in their own
red zone, as they are allowing just 21.3 points per game which is
13th overall in the NFL.

Clevelands defense has been a major surprise for most of the season,
especially the 7th-ranked pass defense that is allowing just 183
yards passing per game. The Browns are also 7th in the league is
points allowed (17.7 ppg). Their one major concern this week will be
their weak-link run defense (26th 146.3 ypg) going up against the
Jags and the power running of Jones-Drew.

These two teams have split the last four head-to-head matchups dating back to 2001, ironically with the road team winning in each of the
four games. The Browns won in Jacksonville in December of 2002,
21-20. The most recent game was a 20-14 win by Jacksonville in
Cleveland in December of 2005. For the record, both teams are 4-4 ATS
in the series, while the over/under results are also a trend-less 3-3-2.

Other betting trends show a conflict, as the under is 10-2 in the Browns last 12 games overall and is 9-2 in their last 11 games on
grass. But the over is 10-3-1 in the Jags last 14 games on grass and
10-3-2 in their last 15 games versus AFC competition.

The Browns have covered three games in a row and four out of their
last five games overall to run their 2008 season record to 4-2 ATS.
Not only have the Jags been disappointing on the field, theyve been
disappointing to bettors as well with just a 2-4 ATS record so far
this year including an 0-3 ATS record at home in Jacksonville Stadium.

The Browns will be playing without disgruntled tight end Kellen
Winslow Jr., as his comments following his staph infection and piss-
poor game last week prompted the Browns to suspend him without pay
for this weeks game versus the Jags. But for the Browns, it may turn
out to be a case of addition by subtraction, as Winslow has been a
thorn in the Browns side all season with unwarranted contract demands
and just general insubordination.

Badgers Pick: I like the Jaguars in this game, I just think that 7 points is way too many to give a hungry and desperate Browns team
despite having to play on the road. Jacksonville will win the game,
just not by that big a margin. So Im taking the Browns plus the 7
points here.