Death, taxes, and the Browns being terrible. Cleveland has lived in the basement of the AFC North since the turn of the century, finishing last in its division 12 of the past 14 seasons. The last time the Browns won a game was during the Obama administration.
But you already know that, eager reader. And you probably already know that the Browns took Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick in April’s NFL draft. What you might not know about is the unbridled passion Cleveland’s football fans possess, the single-minded nature of that city’s sports landscape.
All of which brings us to “Hard Knocks.” HBO’s beloved NFL all-access show will be embedded with the Browns throughout training camp, and the network released this trailer to get you all sorts of pumped up.
— HBO (@HBO) July 18, 2018
Let’s take a quick run through Cleveland’s 2018 betting odds to see what HBO is workin’ with this year.
Cleveland Browns 2018 Betting Odds and Fantasy Outlook
- 2018 win total: 5.5 (over -160, under +140)
- To make playoffs: 6-1
- To win AFC North: 14-1
- To win AFC: 40-1
- To win Super Bowl: 80-1
- Players in The Action Network’s Fantasy Top 200: WR Josh Gordon, WR Jarvis Landry, RB Duke Johnson Jr., RB Carlos Hyde, TE David Njoku, RB Nick Chubb
>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.
On the surface, the Browns look like an intriguing bet as things stand in mid-July. The rest of the AFC North is treading water.
The Steelers’ core isn’t getting any younger, and Le’Veon Bell will again play under the franchise tag, much to his dismay. The Ravens went 9-7, missed the playoffs and are one bad Joe Flacco day away from a genuine quarterback controversy between him and Lamar Jackson. And the Bengals? They still employ Marvin Lewis as their head coach.
Plus, the Browns made moves in the offseason! They brought in QB Tyrod Taylor to serve as Mayfield’s mentor and competition. Jarvis Landry came over from the Dolphins as one of the best slot threats in the NFL. Landry teaming up with Gordon should strike fear in the hearts of opposing secondaries. Carlos Hyde offers another NFL-quality option to their offense.
And yet, the Browns’ Vegas win total seems … high. The last time Cleveland won at least six games in a season was 2014, when they won seven. They’ve won only a combined four games in the past three seasons. And their schedule doesn’t do them any favors — ninth-hardest according to Lookahead Lines, with trips to New Orleans and Houston, and a midseason gauntlet run going through the Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons.
There’s a chance they’ll also have a QB controversy of their own — if Taylor struggles early on, fans will be clamoring for Mayfield to get snaps. His inspirational speech at the ESPYS last night won’t hurt either.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) July 19, 2018
Either way, no matter if the Browns go 0-16 again or shock the world en route to the playoffs, this should be a ludicrously entertaining season of “Hard Knocks.”