Immediately following the 2018 NFL draft, The Action Network’s PJ Walsh took notice of something interesting happening in Cleveland.
After the Browns took Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward at picks 1 and 4, respectively, Cleveland fans likely left Dallas with a slight feeling of skepticism toward the team’s front office.
Oddsmakers, however, were seeing things differently.
Immediately following draft weekend, Cleveland’s win total jumped from 4.5 to 5.5, and its Week 1 line against Pittsburgh fell from the key number of +7 to +6.5.
Since then, the darlings of HBO’s Hard Knocks have found a way to flip the public’s perception by attracting a boatload of action heading into the 2018 season.
So much so, in fact, that they’ve become a liability to sportsbooks such as the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
“The Browns are the biggest liability for us in the division. They’ve received considerable betting support to win the North. We’ve also seen decent wagers come in on them to win the Super Bowl and moved them from 100-1 to 80-1, and there’s still money coming in.
In terms of their win total, we already moved from 5.5 to 6 after taking a lot of over bets and are expecting that Week 1 number against the Steelers to come down a little.” – Jeff Sherman, Westgate SuperBook Manager
Since opening at 4.5, the Browns’ total has risen by 1.5 wins. To put that into perspective, it’s risen by more than the number of actual wins the Browns have recorded over the past two seasons combined.
Here’s a look at the progression.
Our own simulations have even bumped the Browns’ win total from 4.7 back in April all the way up to 6.9.
As for the money that’s coming in on Cleveland’s Super Bowl futures, ESPN’s David Purdum notes that the Browns have attracted more Super Bowl bets than three of last year’s playoff teams: the Chiefs, Falcons and Jaguars.
For the past few years, sportsbooks had been hoping to attract more public action toward Cleveland — only once last season did the Browns attract more than 50% of bets.
It’s still August, but all signs are pointing to that not being the case in 2018.