Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers Pick 10/7/19
Cleveland Browns (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Date/Time: Monday, October 7, 8:15 PM EST
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Ca
Point Spread: Cle +3.5 / SF -3.5 (Bet365)
Over/Under Total: 48
Freddie Kitchens and Baker Mayfield pack their bags for a trip to San Francisco and a Monday night date with the 49ers to close out NFL week 5. Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers are the only remaining undefeated NFC team, but the sportsbooks are not overly impressed as SF is only 3.5 point favorites for this primetime showdown with the Browns. Here are three reasons the play is to lay the points with the Niners.
San Fran’s Offense Has Too Many Weapons
Kyle Shanahan is one of the best play designers and play-callers in today’s NFL. His Niners are 4th in the league at 6.3 yards per play while QB Jimmy Garoppolo has completed passes to 10 different players over three games. Jimmy G has played better each match after getting off to a slow start. Tight end George Kittle has been his most reliable target hauling in 17 receptions, but the wide receiver combo of Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin will give the Browns problems on Monday night. Both can stretch the field with Goodwin averaging over 20 yards per catch which will keep the Browns safeties deep to help and the long ball. This will open up lanes for San Fran’s running game which is one of the best in the league. San Fran will rotate Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert to pound the rock behind an offensive line that has exceeded expectations early in the year. The combo has averaged over 140 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry. Shanahan will attack defenses at their weakest spot, and with all the weapons he has at his disposal, he will find multiple ways to attack the flaws of Cleveland’s defense.
The Brown’s defense has some talent, but it doesn’t match up well with the SF offense. Cleveland has an aggressive defensive line that has wreaked havoc in 2019. Myles Garrett has gotten out of the blocks fast, recording 6 of the team’s 14 sacks. The line has not been as good against the run ranking well in the bottom half of the league in both yards per carry and yards per game. They knew the Ravens would focus on running the ball last week and still allowed 173 yards on the ground. The Browns also have a solid pair of cornerbacks, but both Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams have been out of the lineup nursing injuries. Even if they get back on the field this week, they will probably not be 100%. The weakness of Cleveland’s defense is their linebackers that will have to match up with Kittle and SF’s stable of running backs. I look for Shanahan to focus the game plan on taking advantage of Cleveland’s linebackers, using play-action to move the chains with Kittle and then take his shots downfield. SF’s offensive line has been able to keep a clean pocket for Jimmy G, which should translate to scoring opportunities for the Niners.
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Which Cleveland Offense Will We See?
Cleveland’s offense was the talk of the offseason. The Combo of Kitchens and Mayfield was going to light up the scoreboard on the shores of Lake Erie, with Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry forming an elite receiving combo and Nick Chubb moving the chains on the ground. The offense had been one of the biggest disappointments of 2019 until last week’s drubbing of the division rival Ravens. The Browns totaled 530 yards with Chubb accounting for 165 of those yards on the ground. Prior to that, the best performance Cleveland had put up was 375 yards against an injured Jets defense, which included a garbage-time 89-yard touchdown to Beckham. Mayfield performed much better last week completing 65% of his passes for 342 yards. So which Browns offense will show up in the Bay this weekend? This depends on what defense they line up against.
San Francisco’s defense will more resemble the Rams and Titans than the Ravens. Baltimore has a tradition of great defenses, but their ability to rush the passer in 2019 is minimal. If Mayfield has a clean pocket, he can execute the offense, but he has shown that when the pocket collapses, he struggles. And this week his offensive line will be overmatched. SF has one of the best front 4’s in the league, and probably as good as they have seen to date. Nick Bosa and Dee Ford anchor SF’s pass rush with DeForest Buckner providing push up the middle. Cleveland’s line will not be able to protect Mayfield or open holes for Chubb. Mayfield will be in 3rd and long often that will allow the Niners rushers to pin their ears back and come after Mayfield. I look for SF to win this battle in the trenches that will not allow Cleveland to sustain drives. It might be a long night for Mayfield and the Browns offense.
We Can’t Trust Freddie Kitchens
Kitchens has already admitted that he has his hands full as head coach. He was thoroughly outcoached opening week against the Titans, and in week three against the Rams. Last week the Browns ran away and hid against Ravens, so coaching was not an issue. This game will not be a Cleveland blowout, so Kitchens will have to elevate his game when it counts. He hasn’t proven he can do that yet. In addition, Mayfield is a roller coaster as a starting QB – playing a good game and following it up with a dud. The Browns are 3-5 ATS after a win with Mayfield at the helm. After a big division victory and now leading the AFC North, it is easy to see the Browns flat in this spot. Until Kitchens and Mayfield prove they can put quality performances together, the expectation is they can’t be trusted to do it.
Lay the Points With the Niners on MNF
The play on Monday Night is to lay the points and take the Niners. I think the public could react to Cleveland’s win against Baltimore and move the line to -3 before kickoff. Obviously that makes this a much better play, but I look for the Niners to win the game and cover the number, even at 3.5.