SNF: Los Angeles Rams vs. Cleveland Browns Pick
Los Angeles Rams (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, September 22, 8:20 PM EST
Where: First Energy Stadium, Cleveland
Point Spread: LAR -3 / Cle +3 (Bookmaker) Over/Under Total: 50
Sean McVay brings his 2-0 Rams to the shores of Lake Erie for a Sunday Night Showdown with the upstart Browns. Cleveland sits at a 1-1 for the year and are 3 point home dogs for the night. Visiting teams have been hot early in the 2019 NFL campaign, and the play here is to lay the field goal and play the visiting Rams. Here are three reasons.
LA’s Offense Has Too Many Weapons
The Rams challenge defenses on all levels. Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown are both averaging over 5 yards per carry that have led LA to 281 rushing yards through the first two weeks. QB Jared Goff has been a little rusty in the early going but is still completing 62% of his passes for 469 yards. Brandin Cooks has the speed to take the top off of a defense and is averaging 22 yards per catch. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods work the middle of the field with the running backs contributing in the passing game as needed. Kupp is fully recovered from last season’s ACL tear. LA is a much more efficient offense when Kupp is on the field and gives Goff the third downfield threat to throw to. Kupp currently leads the team with 12 receptions. On the flip side, LA is bringing some concerns to Cleveland. The offensive line got pushed around by the Saints last week, and starting guard Austin Blythe left the game with an ankle injury and may not make the trip.
Cleveland’s defense has had a very bad week and a very good week. The good week was against Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk leading an anemic Jet offense, but the Browns were able to contain Le’Veon Bell. Against the Titans in week 1, the Browns stop unit didn’t fare as well. They allowed the Titans to rush for 123 yards and throw for 248. The Browns sacked Marcus Mariota 4 times and only allowed two conversions out of 10 tries on 3rd down, but at the end of the day, they allowed a mediocre offense to score four touchdowns. I can’t see this Browns defense holding the Rams under 24 points, and the Rams will probably get to 30. The Rams offense definitely will win this battle, meaning it will be up to the Browns offense to carry the load.
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Wade Phillips Will Confuse Baker Mayfield
Wade Phillips has been coaching defense about 20 years longer than Baker Mayfield has been alive. Phillips is one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, and will have some special packages in store for Mayfield and the Browns offense – and coach Freddie Kitchens. The Titans confused the Browns in week 1 to the point that Cleveland could only muster six first-quarter points. Mayfield ended the game with good stats, but he was confused all game and could not sustain drives. The Browns converted only 1 of 10 3rd downs and were zero for two on 4th down. Against the Jets, Mayfield only converted 4 of 13 3rd downs, so the Browns are just over 20% conversions for the year. Phillips will set the game tone by dialing up creative blitzes and coverages behind them. Mayfield and Kitchens have not been able to adapt to the pressure or get in the right play to exploit the coverage.
If reading the coverage is challenging enough, Cleveland’s offensive line is not very good. They may have the worst set of tackles in the league and have allowed Mayfield to be sacked eight times in the first two games. All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald has yet to get his first sack this season, but that should change this week. Look for Donald to wreak havoc in Cleveland’s backfield on a regular basis on Sunday. With the Rams offense putting points on the scoreboard, Mayfield and the Browns offense will have to keep up – and I don’t think Mayfield will be up to the challenge.
Coaching Will be the Difference
Next to Bill Belichick, McVay is the coach whose team has the best attention to details. The Rams have committed 13 penalties for the year which is bottom 10 in the league. Kitchens squad has committed 27 penalties (that have been accepted), which is seven more than any other team in the league. The Browns average 80 more penalty yards per game than the Rams. This is equivalent to Cleveland giving the Browns 8 first downs to start the game. Throw in that Cleveland has a short week and is feeling good after a win in the Big Apple, and Cleveland is not likely to fix these issues this week. The Browns are undisciplined and will implode when they are given a chance, and there will be plenty of opportunities this week. This will also be an issue with halftime adjustments. Cleveland has been outscored 31-7 in the second halves of their two games this year. Kitchens was overmatched in Week 1 and really had a bye last week against the Jets and their 3rd string QB. McVay has a considerable advantage in the coaching matchup. Look for Kitchens to not be able to match moves with McVay and the Rams to exploit Cleveland’s lack of discipline.
Rams vs. Browns Prediction
Laying points on the road is not the preferred wager in the NFL, but taking McVay and the Rams against Kitchens and the Browns should be a winning proposition. Look for LA to win the game and easily cover the 3 points.
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