Rams vs Browns NFL betting picks and predictions: L.A. primed to break out passing game

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The Cleveland Browns bounced back on Monday after a lackluster performance in the season opener, but now have to face a real test as they welcome the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams to Cleveland on Sunday Night. **video

The Rams enter this matchup 2-0 SU/ATS behind a healthy (for now) running game and a strong defense. But will that be enough to cover 3.5-point as a road favorite for this prime time matchup? From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, we break down the best ways to wager Sunday night football.

LOS ANGELES RAMS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (+3.5, 46.5 @ BETAMERICA)

QUICK HITTER

The NFL really is a “what have you done for me lately” league. For instance, the Rams are averaging 28.5 points per game through the first two weeks of the season. That’s sixth best in the league. But people are still wondering with is wrong with the L.A. offense that averaged 32.9 points per contest last season.

The Rams ground game behind Todd Gurley (whose knee is holding up for now) and Malcolm Brown has been effective, but the passing game hasn’t looked as sharp. But this matchup is set up for Sean McVay’s offense to break out.

The Browns pass defense is banged up, with their top two corners questionable, but worse than that, they just haven’t played very well. The ever-inconsistent Marcus Mariota picked them apart, and as much as everyone wants to make fun of Luke Falk, he still put up 200 yards in less than a full game.

Expect McVay to have something dialed up early and to take a lead into the second quarter.

Pick: Rams -0.5 (+120) First Quarter Spread

FIRST HALF BET

While the Rams seems set up to break out, who knows what you can expect out of the gates from the Browns. They looked awful in their Week 1 loss to Tennessee and you really can’t take anything away from their game against the Jets “B” squad last Monday. Well, maybe nothing positive.

The Browns looked lost on offense at times last week. It seemed like they were constantly slow to the line. And realistically, if it wasn’t for some great plays from Odell Beckham Jr. and Nick Chubb, that game against the Jets could have been a whole lot uglier.

And now they must go up against the likes of Aaron Donald and the Rams defense, which is once again showing it is a strong unit, ranking in the Top 10 in total yards, passing defense, rushing defense and points allowed. It could take a while for the Browns to get going in this one.

Pick: Browns Under 9.5 First Half Team Total (+100)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

We already mentioned that we like the Rams passing offense to really get going in this one and that leads right into our favorite prop play of the game.

Jared Goff is averaging just 224 yards per game thus far this season, but could find success against this Browns secondary. Even if Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams weren’t listed as questionable, they haven’t played overly well this season anyway, particularly Ward. Titans rookie A.J. Brown burned Ward for 100 yards on three catches and then Robby Anderson grabbed four passes for 81 yards.

The Rams leading receiver varies from week-to-week, especially now that Cooper Kupp is back, but that depth will come in handy against the thin Browns secondary and we think that benefits steady Robert Woods the most. Woods continues to be Goff’s safety blanket making his receiving yards total too low in this one. Woods has eclipsed the current number of 64.5 in 14 of his last 17 regular season games. We like Kupp to go Over 69.5 yards as well, but if we have to take one, we’re going with Woods.

Pick: Robert Woods Over 64.5 Receiving Yards

FULL GAME TOTAL

This total hit the board at a nice high 51, and bettors promptly hammered the Under, moving the number all the way down to its current 47. This has to due with the fact that the Browns just haven’t looked very good so far. They have some good numbers on offense, but a lot of those came in garbage time against the Titans and from some big plays against the Jets. Not to mention Goff’s inefficacies this season and his struggles on the road from a year ago.

That said, has this number moved a touch too low? The Rams are set up well to score here. Gurley and Brown should find some rushing lanes against the Browns defense that struggled against Derrick Henry and still allowed LeV’eon Bell to get over 120 total yards despite the fact he looked like the only professional football player on the field for the Jets.

But this all comes back to the fact that McVay will try to unleash Goff in this matchup. And while the Browns haven’t been pretty on offense, they have enough talent at the skill positions to put a few points on the board.

Pick: Over 47

FULL GAME SIDE

Baker Mayfield needs to play his best game of the season if the Browns want to win this game. He’s been sacked eight times and thrown four picks already this season. And frankly, he just hasn’t looked very comfortable in the pocket at his point. To make matters worse for the Browns, they are the most heavily penalized team in the NFL, getting 27 flag thrown against them. That’s seven more than the next closest team.

If the Browns are unable to find some consistency on offense, and continues to lack disciple, they are going to be in real trouble against a talented Rams team, that despite scoring 57 points in two weeks is trying to really still get going.

Pick: Rams -3.5

 

Running up the points with Rockets, and the college football bets you need to make in Week 12

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Are you ready for some more MAC-tion? Because there are two more games on the schedule Wednesday night. We break down the best bets for these games and take a look at the weekend ahead in college football – from sides and totals to props and everything in between.

ROOM TO ROAM

The Toledo Rockets might be only slight favorites for Wednesday night’s MAC tilt with visiting Northern Illinois, but they have a significant advantage in at least one area – and it could turn this one into a bit of a laugher. The Rockets come into the game with the nation’s No. 12 rushing offense, averaging nearly 251 yards per game on the ground – and they’ve been especially dominant over their previous two games, racking up a combined 664 rushing yards in narrow victories over Eastern Michigan and Kent State. The Huskies, meanwhile, are coming off getting routed 48-10 to Central Michigan in which the Chippewas posted 327 rushing yards.

An edge like this makes Toledo a terrific option in a variety of different bet scenarios; we recommend buying a few points in their favor and taking an alternate line of -6.5.

MIAMI (OH) FOR 3

The Miami (OH) Redhawks should have little trouble filling the board Wednesday night as they host a Bowling Green defense that ranks among the worst in the nation in points allowed. But while the Falcons have surrendered a mind-boggling 33.8 points per game so far this season, the Redhawks might not necessarily be headed for a parade to the end zone. Miami (Ohio) has one of the worst touchdown-to-field-goal ratios in the country coming into Week 12, having scored 22 TDs compared with 16 FGs – six of those coming over the course of their current three-game winning streak.

Miami (Ohio) is a big-time favorite here, and is a good bet to open the scoring given BGSU’s 2.5 first-half-points-per-game average on the road this season. We like the Redhawks FG to kick off the point parade.

GILBERT  GETTING BACK

Kansas State’s premier rushing threat might be back on the field this weekend. Wildcats senior James Gilbert practiced on Tuesday and is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an undisclosed ailment that kept him out of last week’s 27-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns. It was originally thought that Gilbert would be in the lineup vs. Texas, but he was a late exclusion – and Kansas State struggled in his absence, finishing with a paltry 51 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Gilbert ranks ninth in the Big 12 Conference in rushing yards (558) while adding five touchdowns on the ground.

Gilbert’s return would invigorate a Kansas State rush attack that has a favorable matchup against a West Virginia defense allowing 173 rushing yards per game. We recommend the hosts ATS if Gilbert is deemed fit to return.

WAKING NIGHTMARE

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have seen their season take a terrible turn with word that standout wide receiver Sage Surratt will miss the remainder of 2019 with an undisclosed injury. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson confirmed Tuesday that Surratt, who wasn’t featured on the team’s depth chart ahead of its Week 12 encounter with Clemson, would be out for the rest of the season – though he wouldn’t specify what was wrong with the star wideout. Surratt finishes the year with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 66 receptions as the premier target for quarterback Jamie Newman.

The absence of Surratt should give bettors even less of a reason to bank on Wake Forest, which has seen the line shift as far as four points in Clemson’s favor. Look for the Tigers to keep the undermanned Deacons below their team total.

Too late to start fading the Fins, and the NFL bets you need to make in Week 11

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This may require a double-take, but listen up. The Miami Dolphins have been the best bet in the NFL since the start of October. Yes, those Miami Dolphins. We break down the odds and let you know what bets we like in Week 11 of the NFL as we dive into sides, totals, props and more. 

STAYING HOT IN Q1

The hottest team in the league right now is Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens. After knocking off the Patriots in Week 9, they turned their crosshairs on the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. The Ravens ran just 48 offensive plays but managed to put up 49 points. Lost in the 49-13 win was the fact that Baltimore moved to 8-1 against the first-quarter spread after winning the first 15 minutes 14-0.

This week, Baltimore is a 4-point home favorite versus a Houston team that is coming off their bye. If you don’t trust a team coming off a blowout win versus the worst team in the league and/or covering their last three games, take a look at the 1Q Ravens -0.5 (-105) as an alternative.

Baltimore is second in the league in first quarter points per game at 9.5 and third in the league in points against in the first quarter at 3.67 while the Texans are 0-3-1 on the road this year in the first quarter. Take the Ravens 1Q -0.5.

FEAST AWAITS EVANS

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face a very motivated New Orleans Saints team Sunday, but NOLA will be without their top cornerback in Marcus Lattimore. The third-year CB is week-to-week with a hamstring injury meaning Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will face sub-par corners in P.J. Williams and Eli Apple.

As Brad Evans pointed out on twitter, this is especially great news for Mike Evans who has struggled over his career versus Lattimore. Evans put up a donut early this year in Week 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and averaged 9.5 targets for three catches and 34 yards in two games in 2017 (last year Lattimore struggled following up his 2017 DROY but has been much better this year).

Even with Jameis Winston getting sacked nearly four times a game, Evans is averaging 139 yards a game over his last four contests. Jump on Evans’ receiving yard total on any number below 85 and check in on his reception total, hitting the Over on any number below 7.

LOADING SCREEN

No team in the league relies on the screen game more than the Minnesota Vikings. Per ESPN, Minnesota is averaging 9.8 yards per screen attempt which is 3.5 yards more per attempt than the No.10 team.

The beneficiary of this is running back Dalvin Cook who gashed the Cowboys in primetime every time he got the ball with blockers ahead of him. Over the last three games, Cook has amassed 193 yards receiving and will face a Denver Broncos’ defense that is giving up 8.6 yards per pass to RBs since Week 8.

Grab the Over on Cook’s receiving yards on any total less than 40 yards.

LOADING SCREEN PT. 2

If you’re tailing the Cook receiving yards play and want some action on the other side of the ball, maybe look to fade the Broncos’ backfield in receiving yards. Denver is the worst team at generating yards on the screen game (3.7 yards per attempt) and neither Phillip Lindsay nor Royce Freeman has topped 17 yards receiving in the last two weeks. In the only game Brandon Allen has started at quarterback, Lindsay wasn’t targeted at all and Freeman saw one target which he lost a yard on.

Feel confident in taking Lindsay’s Under receiving yards on anything greater than 19 and Freeman’s Under on any number greater than 25.

AIN’T FADING THE FINS NOW

The best team ATS over the last five weeks has been the Miami Dolphins. The former 0-7 team has rattled off five-straight wins ATS and face a Buffalo Bills team that has zero offensive identity of late and trailed the Dolphins by five points heading into the fourth quarter just four weeks ago.

We are a little bearish on Miami hitting a sixth-straight win ATS but have no problem fading Josh Allen’s Bills who are putting up just 288 yards of total offense over the last three weeks, good for sixth-worst. Their once stellar defense now sits 12th in Wtd DVOA — 9th against the pass and 27th against the run.

The Bills needed 22 4th-quarter points in their last meeting to cover their team total and we don’t see Brian Daboll’s offense clearing 23.5 points since they are 2-5 O/U that total in their last seven.

Get on the Bills’ team total Under 23.5 now, as it may drop under this key number later in the week.