Denver Broncos (4-4) +3, 46 O/U at Cleveland Browns (3-5) -3, 46 O/
U, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio, 8:15 PM Eastern,
Thursday, NFL Network
by Badger of Predictem.com
The first installment of what will be seven straight weeks of
Thursday night football games shown on the NFL Network will feature
two teams both fighting for their AFC playoff lives, when the Denver
Broncos travel to Cleveland Browns Stadium in Ohio to take on the
The Browns, who at 3-5 are already three games behind the Pittsburgh
Steelers in the AFC North Division standings, are ready to pull the
trigger on a quarterback change as they have named Brady Quinn as the
starter in place of Derek Anderson this week. The last straw
apparently came when Anderson threw a backbreaking interception that
was returned for a touchdown in the closing minutes of the Browns,
37-27, loss to Baltimore last Sunday.
Denver hasnt faired much better lately either, as they enter the
Thursday night game with a three-game losing streak. After starting
the season 4-1 and looking like one of the teams to beat in the AFC,
the Broncos have since fallen hard and fast with three embarrassing
losses, the last one a 26-17 decision to the Miami Dolphins at home
last weekend. Despite the slide the Broncos are still in first place
in the AFC West, but thats because the West is quickly becoming the
worst division in the NFL.
Sportsbetting.com opened the game with the Browns as the standard 3-point
home team favorites. The number briefly went up to 3.5-point
favorites, but upon the news that Quinn was replacing Anderson the
spread dropped back down to 3-points again at most houses.
The over/under total opened at 48 and has dropped at most offshore
sportsbooks to 46.5 or even 46 at most books. The moneyline bet lists
the Browns as -163 favorites, with the Broncos catching +153 as
The Browns are hoping that Quinn is the spark on offense theyve
needed this season. Quinn, who has only thrown 10 regular season
passes (in the season finale last year), will take over a Browns unit
that is in the bottom five of the NFL in every offensive category
including passing yards per attempt (5.7) and completion percentage (.
498). However, if Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow continue to drop
touchdowns (Edwards had one the series before Andersons game-
changing pick), it wont matter who is running the offense.
The Broncos and quarterback Jay Cutler looked like they were going to
set the world on fire throwing the ball early this season. They still
are 4th in the league with 268.6 yards passing per game, but
turnovers have killed the Broncos during the losing streak. Cutler
threw three interceptions in the Miami game on Sunday, and during the
streak the Broncos have thrown six picks and lost five fumbles.
The Broncos are exceptionally thin at running back too, as Michael
Pittman and Andre Hall were both put on IR this week. They join
Selvin Young (hasnt played since Oct. 5th) on the injury list,
leaving rookies Ryan Torian and Peyton Hillis to carry the rock
Defensively these two teams are on different planets.
If it wasnt for the strong performance by the defense the Browns
would be way worse than 3-5 this season. The unit is 25th overall
allowing nearly 350 yards per game (348.1 ypg), but it has been a
bend-but-dont-break approach because they are very strong versus the
pass (200.1 ypg 13th) and only allow 20 points per game (11th in NFL).
What can be said about the Broncos defensive eleven other than ugh!
The Broncos are 29th overall in total yards (389.1 ypg), and 28th in
points allowed (27.6 ppg). No matter how you slice and dice it, they
stink and its making the Broncos hold on the AFC West lead very
slippery indeed. Injuries are taking a toll on defense too, as D.J.
Williams joined Champ Bailey on the sideline when he hurt his knee in
the Dolphins game.
Denver has owned the series with the Browns, forever, winning 18 of
their last 20 games versus the Browns including playoff games. The
Broncos have won four in a row, including a 17-7 decision back in
2006, the only game played in Cleveland since 1993.
The Browns have struggled in Cleveland Browns Stadium this season,
going 1-3 SU (2-2 ATS), although those four games have been against
Dallas, Pittsburgh, New York Giants and Baltimore. The Browns are 9-2
ATS in their last 11 home games however.
Denver has been a bettors worst nightmare this season, going 0-6-1
ATS since their season opening cover versus the Raiders.
Badgers Pick: The Browns best game of the year, by far, came the
last time they were on national TV versus the Giants. Even with Quinn
calling signals, I like the Browns here. Take the Browns minus the 3