Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns Pick ATS
Houston Texans (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS)
Week 2 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 10PM EDT
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Point Spread: HOU +13/CLE -13 (BetNow - Offers Predictem readers a MASSIVE 100% bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $1000!)
Over/Under Total: 48
The Houston Texans come to FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in week two action. Houston got out of the gates fast last Sunday, posting a conclusive 37-21 win over the Jaguars and looking a lot better than some had anticipated. The same can’t be said for the Browns, though things certainly looked to be in order on Sunday until the Chiefs came on strong with a big comeback and nipped them at the wire. They hope to get their first win this week in what appears to be a more manageable spot. Who can notch the cover in Cleveland?
Should we Reevaluate the Texans?
It might prove that beating this version of the Jaguars turns out to be no great feat, but they sure looked better than advertised. The common read on the Texans was that of a dilapidated franchise that would struggle for any real success this season. And while that might prove to be the case, they looked energetic. Mark Ingram gives them a nice component out of the backfield with Phillip Lindsay; Both ran for scores on Sunday. Tyrod Taylor has always been a very competent and underrated force behind center. Some weeks he won’t put up great numbers, but he’s not a guy who’s going to blow it, either.
Taylor is also nimble enough to mask some of the inadequacies of the Houston offensive line. This could be a spot, however, where those deficiencies come more into light against the Cleveland defensive front. They added Jadaveon Clowney, who looked lively in his Cleveland debut, freeing up guys like Myles Garrett, who can do a lot of damage. Taylor will also likely not be able to put up close to 300 yards as he did last week in what was an atypically good aerial performance by Taylor. And while that’s partly a testament to what could be an underrated Houston offense, it also speaks to the level of opponent they played.
Tough Spot for the Texans
Facing the prospects of falling to 0-2, I would expect to see a fired-up Cleveland squad on Sunday. Even what they came up with at Arrowhead last week would be enough to leave the Texans in the dust. But after suffering a painful loss and now in their home-opener, this is a spot where the offensively-heavy Browns should thrive in a big way. And their defense won’t be seeing Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Patrick Mahomes. They’ll be dealing instead with Tyrod Taylor, Mark Ingram, and Brandin Cooks. It came off like a dream on Sunday, but that was against a Jacksonville team working in a lot of new pieces.
Cleveland’s defense got off to a good start on Sunday, holding KC to a reasonable 10-point output, through one half, as Cleveland led, 22-10. And they did melt a bit in the end and weren’t terribly clutch to close out the game. In fact, they folded. A couple of turnovers and a pick by Mayfield, who can always undermine the team effort with turnovers, didn’t help. But if one were to transfer that same defensive performance against Houston, it would look a lot different. Houston’s offense can’t utterly take over a game and suddenly flip the script as the Chiefs can. And it’s unlikely that Mayfield, his two backs in Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, and his slew of dangerous ball-catchers will face more resistance at home against Houston this week. And while it did culminate with a loss, which is never a cause to celebrate, looking good for most of the game at Arrowhead against the two-time defending conference champions isn’t all that awful, perhaps.
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You Don’t Know Until You Know
It’s easy to write off what the Texans did last week. It often takes a lot to get people off of their initial analysis. But players can over-perform. A coach can get people to respond to him, as old longtime assistant David Culley is attempting to do in his first head coaching gig. Players can be underrated. You see guys like Taylor, Ingram, and Cooks moving from team to team, and you get the misconception that there’s something wrong with how they play when it was really just happenstance. And sure, last week’s showing probably had a lot to do with the Jaguars. But to just blindly sign off this week on a Browns’ blowout would make us at least a little guilty of not acknowledging what we, in fact, saw on Sunday—a competent Houston team that has a lot of good players and looks way better than advertised.
One can almost envision the recipe the Texans will need to execute to keep this close. And it’s not entirely unrealistic. Cleveland makes some mistakes, and when you contrast the stressing of taking care of the ball between Taylor and Mayfield, it can impact a game’s bottom line. Granted, getting a bunch of turnovers and rattling Trevor Lawrence in his NFL debut and doing that to a desperate Cleveland offense while on the road are two different things.
Lay the Number
It would be bad to open the season chasing your tail on the Texans, and missing covering spreads by a mile betting against them. The fact is they did look good and entirely functional to start the season, a far cry from the laughingstock some predicted. After all, their star QB is out for odd reasons. They hired a coach who was on no one’s radar. And they lost key guys when they needed to boost their roster. It paints a certain image. But the fact is that even if they’re a level or two above what people thought, it still doesn’t stop them from absorbing what looks to be a likely beating in Cleveland. I’ll take the Browns.
Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Cleveland Browns minus 13 points.
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