Denver Broncos (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: October 18th, 1:00 PM ET
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium
TV: Direct TV
by Jeff Hochman, Professional Handicapper, jhsportsline.com
Point Spread: DEN -5/ CLEV +5
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Denver Broncos will play their second consecutive road game against the upstart Cleveland Browns. Last week, the Broncos defeated the Raiders by just six points (16-10) as 5.5-point underdogs. It was a tough half point loss for all Raider backers, as Denver scored a touchdown on a pick six by Chris Harris Jr. with 6:53 left in the game. Talk about your “bad beats”! Oakland was in the red zone and should have at least kicked a field-goal to go up 10-9. Denver outgained Oakland 297-288, but only accumulated 15 first downs. The Raiders had 20 first downs and three costly turnovers. Takeaways are by far the most important stat in football games. The team with more takeaways wins close to 65% of the time. The Browns are coming off an impressive come-from-behind victory in overtime (33-30) as 6-point road underdogs. They outgained the Ravens 505-377, including 422 passing yards from Josh McCown.
Denver has won the stats in all but two games this season, but the margin has not been overwhelming. The Broncos are ranked 17th in points per game, 30th in yards per game, 23rd in pass yards per game, and 30th in rushing yards per game. All those numbers are down significantly from last year. The defense has been a strength and a big reason why the Broncos are undefeated. Denver’s defense is ranked No. 1, allowing 278 yards per game and just 4.7 yards per play. Cleveland started slow on offense, but has really been clicking the past two weeks. The Browns are ranked 13th in points per game, 8th in yards per game, 6th in pass yards per game, and 28th in rushing yards per game. The defense is missing some key parts, but it might not matter as the Broncos offense is just getting by. Cleveland is allowing 400 yards per game and is ranked No. 27th overall. The public will be all over the Broncos in this game and the ticket count is about 4:1 at a respected sports book in Las Vegas.
While the Broncos bring in the better defense, their are some concerns with injuries this week. DeMarcus Ware is out and Aquib Talib is questionable, as he was seen limping on crutches at Monday’s practice. Even if Talib does play he won’t be 100% and could be on a pitch count. The loss of Ware hurts, but if one team has depth at that position it’s certainly the Broncos. Both teams have been playing super on special teams. The Browns are ranked No. 2, while the Broncos are ranked No. 4 according to Football Outsiders. No real advantage for either team. The big advantage for the Broncos will be rushing the passer. Denver has 22 quarterback sacks in five games along with 14 takeaways. On the flip side, the Browns have just 10 sacks for the entire season. Cleveland will need its offensive line to give McCown enough time because running the ball against Denver will be rough sledding. The Broncos are allowing just 85.2 yards on the ground per game.
Josh McCown threw for a team-record 422 yards in last week’s victory. I normally like to fade teams off any kind of record-setting performance. However, this is not a great spot for the Broncos. Denver will be playing its second consecutive road game. This will be their first road game at 1:00 PM E, which will feel like an 11:00 AM body clock start time. Peyton Manning will be playing his first cold weather game as the kick-off temperature is expected to be around 50 degrees. He has not looked good in cold weather over the last two seasons. The Broncos are 3-11 ATS as favorites in road games after playing the Raiders with no rest.
The Broncos are 4-0 SU and 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings. The Browns are 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games vs. teams with a winning record. Denver is 2-6 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS win. Cleveland is 1-5 ATS in their last six games after scoring more than 30 points.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Cleveland Browns +5
I went against Denver last week and got burned by 1/2 point. I think the Browns will be fired up at home and should be able to score enough points to keep this one close. The Broncos played a physical game against a bitter rival last week. As mentioned above, the Broncos are 3-11 ATS as road chalk after facing the Raiders with no rest. Take the underdog in the Dawg pound.
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