Browns vs. Buccaneers Betting Guide: Can We Expect a Show From Baker Mayfield?

Browns vs. Buccaneers Betting Guide: Can We Expect a Show From Baker Mayfield? article feature image

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Spread: Browns -3
  • Over/Under: 42.5
  • Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

The Browns face the Buccaneers in one of two matchups scheduled for Friday night. Let’s start with a look at key storylines and actionable betting takeaways for both teams.

Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield said Wednesday that he’s hopeful to play at least one half of football Friday night.

It remains unlikely that we’ll see Odell Beckham Jr., but an extended look at Nick Chubb would still be one helluva treat. The Browns’ 2018 second-round pick quickly proved to be one of the league’s toughest players to get to the ground as a rookie.

Most yards after contact per touch in a season among all RBs since 2010 (PFF, min. 100 carries):

1. 2018 Nick Chubb (4.47) 👀
2. 2017 Kenyan Drake (4.29)
3. 2018 Derrick Henry (4.21)
4. 2012 Adrian Peterson (3.93)
5. 2017 Alvin Kamara (3.83)

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 30, 2019

It’d be silly for the Browns not to feed Kareem Hunt some touches and snaps once his suspension is over. I’m not as convinced that current backup Dontrell Hilliard will receive the same type of role, particularly due to Chubb’s underrated talents as a receiver.

The key question in Cleveland is whether or not they have a good enough offensive line to support an elite offense. They ranked 18th in adjusted line yards per rush as well as 16th in adjusted sack rate in 2018 and have their hands full with replacing former starting guard Kevin Zeitler.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A tired narrative this offseason has been the idea that Bruce Arians hasn’t historically featured tight ends, so third-year stud OJ Howard could be in for a rough season.

This is unfair to assume because Arians has never has a tight end as talented as the Buccaneers’ 2017 first-round pick.

Only seven TEs have averaged at least two yards per route run among 100 tight ends with at least 100 routes over the past two seasons (PFF):

George Kittle (2.22)
Travis Kelce (2.2)
Rob Gronkowski (2.1)
OJ Howard (2.06) 👀
Hunter Henry (2.05)
Zach Ertz (2.02)
Mark Andrews (2.01)

— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 13, 2019

He largely functioned as one of the league’s best tight ends in 2018 before suffering a season-ending sprained foot and ankle:

  • Targets: 48 (12th among all tight ends in Weeks 1-11)
  • Receptions: 34 (T-10th)
  • Yards: 565 (fifth)
  • Yards per target: 11.8 (second)
  • Touchdowns: 5 (tied for third)
  • PPR: 120.5 (sixth)

Howard has been in on 21 of Jameis Winston’s 22 snaps this preseason (per Adam Levitan). This season is shaping up to be a breakout year for one of the league’s most-physically gifted tight ends.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, their secondary and defense in general remain more-or-less a train wreck. I’ll take the visitors in hopes of Mayfield playing up to 30 minutes of action.

PICK: Browns -3

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