This Sunday the Cleveland Browns (4-7-1) will host the Carolina Panthers (6-6) in a matchup of two teams fighting to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST at First Energy Stadium and will be televised locally on FOX.
Oddsmakers currently have Carolina listed as a 2-point road favorite with the total set at 47 points. Click here for a full Week 14 betting schedule and for more links to our game previews.
Panthers vs Browns Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview
The Panthers come in off a 24-17 loss at Tampa Bay as a 3.5-point favorite. Carolina’s season has taken a drastic turn for the worse. The Panthers looked like maybe they were a team to be taken seriously in the NFC after a 6-2 start. After four straight losses Carolina is now 6-6. With New Orleans sitting at 10-2 and all but a lock to win the NFC South, the Panthers only hope is down to one of the two Wild Card spots.
The Browns attempts at a 3-game winning streak came up short in a turnover infested 29-13 loss at Houston as a 6-point underdog. Baker Mayfield threw 3 interceptions and Cleveland finished -4 (4-0) in the turnover department. While that loss really put the Browns behind the 8-ball for that final Wild Card spot in the AFC, they are still mathematically alive.
Free NFL Betting Pick & Predictions: Browns +2
My early lean here would be to grab the points with Cleveland at home, as I think they are playing the much better football down the stretch. While the final score against the Texans makes it look like Houston dominated that game, the Browns outgained the Texans 428 to 384. The even more telling stat for me is that Cleveland averaged 8.2 yards/play, compared to Houstons mere 5.2 yards/play.
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It was simply a bad day at the office for rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. While the turnovers will cost you every time, he did throw for an impressive 397 yards. Beating his previous high for passing yards by 100 yards. I think you also have to look at the whole body of work. He had a 7-0 TD-INT ration in his previous two games and 11-2 ratio over his last 4.
I’m pretty confident that Mayfield is going to bounce back in a big way here. Carolina’s defense is built for stopping the run and can be exploited through the air. Opposing quarterbacks are completing on average 66.9% against the Panthers secondary and averaging 7.3 yards/pass attempt. Carolina’s defense as a whole is giving up 27.8 ppg and 359 ypg on the road this season, where they are a mere 1-5 SU and 1-5 ATS.
As for Cleveland’s defense being able to contain Cam Newton and the Panthers offense, I think they can definitely do enough to get the win. The Browns defense has been much better since they got rid of head coach Hue Jackson and promoted defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to interim head coach. For the season they are giving up 26 ppg and 412.7 ypg. They are only allowing 21.7 ppg and 379.3 ypg in their last 3.
During this Panthers 4-game losing streak they have been listed as the favorite 3 times, including losses at Detroit and Tampa Bay. Newton is now 7-14 ATS in his 21 starts as a road favorite.
I also think it’s important to note that we shouldn’t have any concern here with Cleveland not playing hard down the stretch, regardless of where they stand in the playoff hunt. This team is building for the future with Mayfield under center and any kind of success for this team is a big positive for next year. Give me the Browns +2