The Denver Broncos (6-7) are set to host the Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) in the finale of Saturday’s NFL double-header. Kickoff is set for 8:20 EST at Mile High Stadium and will be televised on the NFL Network.
Oddsmakers opened up this game with the Broncos as a 4-point home favorite, but early money has driven the line the other way. Right now Denver is just a 2.5-point favorite with the total set at 45.5 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 15 betting odds and for more links to our game previews.
NFL Betting Preview & Vegas Game Odds: Browns vs Broncos
Cleveland comes into this game off a 26-20 win at home over the Panthers as a 1-point underdog. The Browns are now 3-2 under interim head coach Gregg Williams with the two losses coming at home against Kansas City and at Houston. Chiefs have the best record in the AFC at 11-2 and the Texans are leading the AFC South and 9-1 in their last 10. Believe or not, we are headed into Week 15 and Cleveland still has a shot at the playoffs. Though it would take a miracle, as the best the Browns can do is 8-7-1 and there are 5 teams ahead of them with 7 wins already.
Denver would be one of those teams with 7 wins had they know lost on the road to the 49ers last week 20-14 as a 3-point favorite. That has to be a tough loss for the Broncos to swallow, as San Francisco came into that game 1-9 in their last 10, with the only win coming at home against the Raiders. It also came after Denver had won 3 straight, which included upset wins over both the Chargers and Steelers. Denver is in a marginally better spot than Cleveland when it comes to making the playoffs.
NFL Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Browns +2.5
I don’t like betting against the Broncos at home, but my early lean here would be take the points with the Browns at 2.5. I would consider buying this up to 3 or just rolling the dice on Cleveland with the money line, as chances are they win outright if they cover the 2.5.
Click on the link for more free NFL picks from our expert handicappers on staff.
I just think the injuries have become too much for Denver to overcome. On offense they playing a bunch of inexperienced receivers after trading away Demaryius Thomas and then losing Emmanuel Sanders to a season ending injury in their Week 13 win over the Bengals. Against the 49ers, Case Keenum completed 24 of 42 attempts for just 186 yards, which comes out to a dreadful 4.4 yards/attempt.
I think not having anyone to really respect in the passing game allowed the 49ers to really load up agains the run and not let Philip Lindsay beat them. San Francisco held Lindsay to just 30 yards on 14 attempts. They guy had 346 yards and 5 scores over the previous 3 games. Cleveland just held a pretty good Panthers rushing attack to 96 yards, so they can definitely keep Lindsay in check.
On the flip side of this, I’ve really liked what I’ve seen out of Browns’ rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. If it wasn’t for some costly turnovers in that 29-13 loss at Houston (outgained Texans 428-384), Cleveland could easily be riding a 4-game winning streak. I also think this is a completely different and much better team since they got rid of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.
Maybe the most important thing is the Browns are playing with a ton of confidence and if you look at the media coverage on this team, players actually think they got a chance at sneaking into the playoffs, whether it be as a Wild Card or somehow winning the AFC North. Regardless of how slim their chances really are, that’s the mentality you want to see from a team in this spot. I definitely don’t get that same vibe from the Broncos. It’s almost as if the loss the 49ers sucked the life out of this team.
It’s also worth pointing out that Denver is just 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 home games, 4-9 ATS last 13 vs a team with a losing record, 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games played in the month of December, 1-5 ATS last 6 after scoring less than 15 points and 3-11 ATS in their last 14 following a game where they didn’t cover the number. Give me the Browns +2.5!