Browns vs 49ers NFL betting picks and predictions: Look for big plays from Cleveland

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Two up-and-coming young teams face off on Monday Night Football as the Cleveland Browns, fresh off a 40-point performance against the Ravens, take on the 3-0 San Francisco 49ers. From the first whistle to the last we break down the odds and give our best bets and predictions for this matchup.

CLEVELAND BROWNS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-5, 47 @ BETAMERICA)

QUICK HITTER

The Browns will be the best defense the 49ers have faced this year. So far San Fran’s offensive line has managed to keep quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s jersey relatively clean, letting him get sacked just twice in three games.

However, the Browns led by Myles Garrett are fourth in the league in sacks with 3.5 per game and should be able to apply more pressure than what Jimmy-G has faced this year.

The 49ers defense has been excellent against both the run and the pass; holding opposing running backs to just 3.3 yards per carry and opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 57.14. So both offenses could struggle out of the gate in this one.

We like the Under 9.5 on the 1Q total.

PICK: First quarter total – Under 9.5 (-110)

FIRST-HALF BET

San Fran has put points on the scoreboard this year but they tend to do most of their damage in the second half. In the opening half they average just 11 points per game. Cleveland scores 9.5 ppg in the opening half and even in their 40-point performance last week, scored only 10 points through the first 35 minutes of the game.

On the defensive side of the ball, both teams have been stout in the early going. The Browns hold opponents to just 6.2 ppg in the opening half, the third-best number in the league. The Niners defense, which features a front seven just littered with first-round draft selections, isn’t far behind them giving up 7.7 points in the first half.

Take the Under on the 1H total.

PICK: First Half total Under 23 (-110)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

We’ve already described how much the 49ers defense has improved and one stat in particular makes this clear: interceptions. In 2018, the 49ers set an NFL record for the fewest interceptions in a season, picking off just two passes! This year, through just three games, they’ve already more than doubled that total with five INTs.

Browns QB Baker Mayfield has plenty of potential but he’s a gunslinger who’s not afraid to force passes. Unfortunately for Cleveland fans that also means he gets picked off a lot. Mayfield has been intercepted in every game this season, and going back to last year he’s thrown 13 interceptions over his last nine games.

Odell Beckham Jr. has been limited to just 86 yards on eight catches over the last two games (with not a single reception of 20 yards or more), so you might see Mayfield force the ball downfield a bit more on Monday night. We like Mayfield to throw an interception even with the number juiced heavily towards that happening.

PICK: Baker Mayfield Over 0.5 interceptions (-150)

FULL GAME TOTAL

Both defenses have looked very strong this season while the offenses have been inconsistent. Cleveland’s offense finally broke through last week, but through the first three games of the season looked out of sync on that side of the ball, averaging just 330.3 yards and 16.3 points per game.

San Francisco has racked up a lot of yards this year but if you look below the surface there are troubling signs. The best defense they’ve faced this year was Pittsburgh who rank 19th in the league in yards allowed, and the Niners have turned the ball over more than any team in the league with 2.7 giveaways per game. They also have one of the worst red-zone offenses in the NFL, scoring a touchdown just 42.86 percent of the time they enter the red zone.

We think the second half will be higher scoring than the first but we’re still leaning towards the Under.

PICK: Under 47 (-110)

FULL GAME SIDE

San Francisco might be 3-0 but they’ve beaten up on some pretty weak opponents in the Buccaneers, Bengals, and Roethlisberger-less Steelers. The Browns got stomped by the Titans in Week 1 but are coming off an impressive win against a good Ravens team and the previous week were leading against the Rams until the fourth quarter.

The Browns also have a terrific group of skill players, in Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Nick Chubb that are all capable of making big plays. That big-play ability could make the difference in a back-and-forth defensive battle.

The Niners might play spoiler every now and then but they don’t do a good job of covering when they are the chalk. They’re 0-5 ATS as a favorite going back to last year, and have covered as a favorite only once since 2015 (1-9 ATS in that span). With the Browns 4-0 ATS in their last four games on the road, take them to cover again.

PICK: Cleveland +5 (-110)

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.