The Cleveland Browns are sitting in last place in the AFC North, and unless they win out a postseason appearance seems very unlikely. The Browns are 4-8 overall, and they have a 1-4 record on the road this season. A win will not come easy this week when they are up against arguably one of the best teams in the AFC.
The New England Patriots have a 9-3 overall record, and they are a perfect 6-0 at home this season. The Patriots have all but locked up their division, and they are playing for a chance at home field advantage with Denver and Kansas City.
Kick-off takes place at 1:00 PM ET this Sunday, with regional television coverage provided by CBS. The oddsmakers expect New England to remain undefeated at home, listing the Patriots as 13-point favorites over the Browns with the total set at 45.5-points.
Why Cleveland Covers
The Cleveland Browns are getting a lot of points in this game. They are averaging 19.2 points per game, just seven points behind the 26.8 points per game scored by New England. Cleveland’s complete lack of a running game has not stopped them from picking up four wins this season. They have thrown for an average of 250 passing yards per game, and they have done a great job of avoiding turnovers. They should make easy work of a Patriots defense that is allowing 150 rushing yards per game on five yards per carry at home this season.
This matchup fits a system to play on road underdogs that have been outscored by four or more points per game this season when they are coming off a loss by six points or less. This system is 226-139 against the spread.
The Browns defense is a lot better than they get credit for. They have held opponents to a mere 99 rushing yards per game on 3.5 yards per carry. The secondary has played extremely well regardless of the venue they are playing in. Cleveland has held opponents to just 192 passing yards per game on the road this season. Those numbers have not come against a soft schedule either. The Browns opponents are scoring an average of 22.5 points per game, and they are in a very tough division that has delivered a lot of Super Bowl winning teams in recent years.
Why New England Covers
The New England Patriots play at another level when they are at home. They are scoring 30.3 points per game in their six home games this season. They have gained an average of 136 rushing yards per game on 4.2 yards per carry in those games. Tom Brady is doing exactly what Tom Brady does, which is win games. He has completed over 60 percent of his pass attempts for over 3,250 yards this season, and has 19 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. Brady should have no problem carving up a Browns defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 62.9 percent of their pass attempts in road games this season.
The Cleveland Browns are 1-8 ATS against excellent offensive teams that are averaging over 375 yards per game.
Much like the offensive unit, this Patriots defense plays extremely well at home. They have held opponents to just 19.8 points per game. They are giving up a lot of yardage, but the fact that they are not allowing those opponents to get a lot of points indicates just how talented this stop unit plays in the red zone. With a chance at home field advantage on the line, I don’t think the Patriots will be in a situation to look past the Browns this week. The offense should put up big numbers, and the defense should have no problem shutting down Cleveland’s only receiving option of Josh Gordon.
I think the Patriots will win this game by two touchdowns. They are clearly the better team, and the Browns look like they have thrown in the towel on the season. With New England fighting to keep pace with the Broncos for a chance at home field advantage, I think they will come out firing and keep their foot on the gas for four quarters. Lay the points with the home team because this game should be a blowout.