Falcons-Browns Betting Preview: Is There Still Value in Taking Atlanta After Big Line Move?
Derick Hingle, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Gregg Williams
Betting odds: Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Falcons -6
- Over/Under: 51
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: For the second straight week, the Browns are getting no love as a home dog. At the time of writing they are getting just 18% of the bets, so it’s not surprising to have seen them move from +3.5 to +4.5. There has been some sharp action on Cleveland (again), but not enough to keep the line from ballooning to 6 (see live betting data here). — Mark Gallant
Weather report: Sunday will have an almost wintery feel, as temperatures in Cleveland will be in the high 30s. The winds are currently borderline double digits, which is something to definitely keep an eye on. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: The public is once again fading the Browns. Since 2003, teams that receive 20% or less of spread tickets have gone 114-92-9 (55%) ATS. Late in the season, November to January, teams getting little public support have gone 63-42-8 (60%) ATS. — John Ewing
Biggest mismatch: Duke Johnson vs Atlanta’s coverage in the flat
The Falcons are on pace to allow the most receptions in the league to running backs for the fourth year in a row and will spend at least one more week without linebacker Deion Jones (foot), whose coverage earned him a grade of 90.5 from Pro Football Focus while no other linebacker on the team has earned a grade higher than 65.7.
Criminally underused to start the season, Johnson busted out for 9-78-2 receiving line last week. With his career average yards per target sitting at a stellar 9.3, Johnson is easily Cleveland’s most efficient passing-game weapon. — Chris Raybon
Which team is healthier? Falcons
The Falcons are still one week away from welcoming back linebacker Deion Jones (groin) from injured reserve, but starting cornerback Robert Alford (ankle) appears to have a good shot at suiting up Sunday. Kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring) and Mohamed Sanu (hip) continue to nurse their ongoing injuries.
The Browns have a few more issues to worry about, as left tackle Desmond Harrison (illness) and tight end David Njoku (knee, ribs) are banged up on the offensive side of the ball.
Linebackers Jamie Collins (ankle) and Joe Schobert (hamstring) join cornerback Denzel Ward (hip) as injured defenders. No. 2 cornerback E.J. Gaines (concussion) and linebacker Christian Kirksey (hamstring) are each done for the season.
DFS edge: Jarvis Landry’s price tag has decreased $1,000 on DraftKings over the past two weeks as his fantasy production hasn’t been reliable. However, he’s still averaging 10.5 targets per game with Baker Mayfield at quarterback.
He’ll get a favorable matchup against slot CB Brian Poole this week, and Landry’s price decrease has resulted in a +3.48 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings — tied for the sixth-best mark among receivers in our FantasyLabs Models. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Browns +6
This is a sneaky good matchup for the Browns. Chris did a great job of detailing above how Cleveland’s new-look offense can attack Atlanta’s weaknesses, so I won’t spend too much time on that.
The only thing I’ll add: Don’t be fooled into buying into a resurgent Falcons defense after it allowed only 34 combined points to the Redskins and Giants the past two weeks. Those offenses are trash.
Look at Atlanta’s results from Weeks 3-6 for a more accurate representation of its defense (37.5 ppg allowed) — at least until Jones comes back.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s focus on how the Browns defense can give the Falcons some problems.
Cleveland ranks second against the pass, according to Football Outsiders. The Falcons offense is elite in that area too (fourth overall), but it has done much of its damage at home against inferior pass defenses (Panthers, 20th; Saints 29th; Bengals, 16th; Bucs, 31st; and Giants, 27th).
The Browns present a much different challenge. They have a No. 1 corner (Ward), who, if healthy, can match up one-on-one with Julio. And they have a pass-rush (12th in adjusted sack rate) that can take advantage of an Atlanta O-line that’s allowed Ryan to be sacked more in three road games (12) than five home games (10).
Below-average O-lines don’t travel well, especially when they can’t lean on a decent run game (Atlanta ranks 22nd in rush DVOA).
The Browns are, of course, riding a four-game losing streak, but three of those games came against likely playoffs teams (Chargers, Steelers, Chiefs) and only one of them came under this new regime (a 37-21 loss to K.C. that you can chalk up to the Chiefs being #good).
I thought the opener of Falcons -3.5 was fair, but this has ballooned out of control. Be sure to shop around for the best number, as a few +6.5s popped up on Thursday evening. There should be more where that came from, given the lopsided public support for the Falcons. — Scott Miller
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.