Sunday NFL Odds, Predictions, Picks: Browns vs. Chargers Betting Preview for Week 5
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Chubb.
- After opening as a short away favorite, the Browns now find themselves short underdogs against the Chargers.
- Where is the betting value on this Week 5 NFL matchup given that momentum?
- Find Browns vs. Chargers odds in our preview below, complete with a pick.
Browns vs. Chargers Odds
|Time||4:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
Both teams are 3-1, but we could see a contrast in approach to this game. That should make things even more compelling from a handicapping standpoint.
The look-ahead line had the Browns as a one-point favorite.
However, that number’s now flipped with the Chargers as high as a 2.5 point favorite. There’s plenty to unpack with this game, so let’s go ahead and dive right in.
Browns 3-1 Despite Mayfield
We’ll start with a helicopter view of the Browns.
What’s interesting about this ranking is that I could probably make a case for 10 teams with a higher power rating over the Browns: the Bills, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Ravens, Cowboys, Rams, Packers, Panthers and the Chargers.
It’d be a valuable exercise to see how many of those teams would the Browns be a favorite against on a neutral field. Maybe the Panthers?
This isn’t a knock on Football Outsiders, but it often helps to use the data contextually when discussing sports betting.
Cleveland benefits from a head coach in Kevin Stefanski who knows how to devise schemes to his team’s strengths. Since Stefanski took over, the Browns rarely strike me as a team that looks ill-prepared for their games.
To the Browns’ credit, they’re one of the few teams that don’t look overmatched when they play against the Chiefs.
Their 33-29 loss in the season opener gave them the confidence to put together their current three-game winning streak.
While the Browns are malleable enough to compete in a shootout with the Chiefs, I’m not sure that’s the strength of this football team.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 21-of-28 passes for 321 yards in that game. He also finished with a 0:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 61.1 Total QBR.
Since then, Mayfield’s Total QBR in the subsequent weeks has been 54.8, 45.3 and 15.6.
After four games, Mayfield’s two touchdowns equal that of Texans rookie Davis Mills and Dolphins backup Jacoby Brissett. Even 49ers backup Trey Lance (three) has more touchdowns than Mayfield.
And yet, Cleveland is 3-1.
I think it’s fair to say that the Browns are winning despite Mayfield at the moment.
They’re doing so with a rushing attack that leads the league with 177 yards per game. Cleveland’s defense has also played a significant role as it’s second in allowing opponents an average of 250.2 yards and fourth in allowing 16.8 points per game.
If we focus on the Browns’ run game and defense, we can see their identity much clearer.
It’s no surprise that Cleveland’s running the ball 52.83% of the time, which is the second-highest rate in the league. That’s a big reason why they’re also second in the league in time of possession (34:21).
These findings will be vital in determining how to best invest in this game.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers and Browns share a common opponent as both teams already played the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
I remember watching those games and seeing both teams jump out to two-score leads over the Chiefs. The other thing that stood out was each team’s chances of pulling off the upset.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs always seemed to have an answer no matter what transpired and you never quite felt the Browns were ever entirely in control of the game.
The Chiefs know their defense is awful, so they don’t mind trading chunks of passing yards on offense because it’s often difficult for the opposing quarterback to continue to match every score.
In contrast, the Chargers deployed a very different strategy by allowing the Chiefs to run the ball. This took the ball out of Mahomes’ hands.
What’s interesting is that the Chargers won the game despite allowing 186 yards on the ground.
When the Browns played the Chiefs, they allowed 73 rushing yards, but Mahomes beat them with 324 passing yards.
This is extremely important because we could see the Chargers follow the same formula on Sunday by encouraging the Browns to run the ball.
After watching his defense with the Rams, we know that Chargers head coach Brandon Staley prefers to use a light box upfront.
This means fewer than six defenders with the remainder in the secondary to support his dime and nickel packages.
Thus, Staley doesn’t seem too bothered inviting opposing teams to run the ball as he’s placed a greater emphasis on his pass defense. It’s why the Chargers are ranked fourth in Football Outsiders Defensive Pass DVOA.
They’re also fifth in allowing 192.5 passing yards per game.
However, the question is whether Staley will commit to bringing another defender in the box, given the Browns’ likelihood to run the ball.
Cleveland is still in the top half of the league in play-action pass plays, so the threat is likely to keep the Los Angeles defense honest.
I suspect that Cleveland will have a ton of the ball in this game based on the Browns’ run play percentage (52.83%) and a Los Angeles defensive scheme that operates with light numbers in the tackle area.
The Chargers are 22nd in Defensive Rush DVOA run and 29th in allowing 139.5 rushing yards per game. It’ll be interesting to see if Staley relents and adds another defender in the box against this Browns’ league-leading rushing attack.
One thing we know about both teams is they like to control the tempo.
Cleveland is second in the league in time of possession (34:21), while the Chargers are eighth (32:18).
Both teams are also first and second in their average time per drive. Los Angeles leads the way at 3:24 while Cleveland averages 3:21. These stats should be indicative of this game staying under the total on Sunday.
The under has cashed in Cleveland’s last two games, and in the previous four Chargers’ games, including eight of their last 10 contests.
I’d expect that we’ll see plenty of Nick Chubb running the ball given Mayfield’s struggles in recent weeks. FanDuel has the best price on the board with a total of 47.5, so I’ll look to play the under there.
Pick: Under 47.5