Chiefs-Browns Betting Preview: Sharps Make Their Choice Clear
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield
Betting odds: Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Chiefs -9.5
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: Talk about lopsided. At the time of writing (Thursday evening), the Chiefs are still receiving 86% of spread bets. Eighty-six percent! (Check out live betting percentages here.)
Regardless, Cleveland is certainly the sharper side, as three reverse line moves have been triggered on the Browns.
It should go without saying that when bets are split nearly 90/10 but the line hasn’t moved, the minority is a sharp group. —Mark Gallant
Weather report: Winds are projected to be blowing at 13 mph to go along with overcast skies and temps in the 50s. Certainly a fall day in Cleveland.
Perhaps as a result of the windy forecast, more than 60% of over/under dollars are on the under, which has moved from 53 to 51.5. — Gallant
Trends to know: At the time of writing, Chiefs-Browns is the most bet game on the board — and also the most lopsided, as Mark discussed above.
Here’s something to keep in mind as Sunday approaches: Since 2003, teams receiving 20% or fewer of bets have gone 114-91-9 (56%) against the spread, per our Bet Labs data. And in games played Week 9 or later, these teams are 46-31-5 (60%) ATS.
Did you know? If this over/under closes at 50 or more, it will be the third time this season a Browns game had a total of 50 or more. That is pretty amazing considering that Cleveland had just three games close at 50 or more between 1985 and 2017. — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Special teams
I mentioned this a few weeks back when the Chiefs played the Bengals, and I have to mention it again in this particular matchup. Although they’ve improved slightly, the Browns still have either the worst or second-worst (hi, Chargers) special teams unit in the league. That does not bode well against the Chiefs, who have had the best special teams group in the league this season.
You can look at any number of statistics to see the difference, including punting. When the Chiefs rarely do have to punt, Dustin Colquitt has been superb (although he doesn’t even qualify for official 2018 NFL punting stats as he has not punted enough times).
The Chiefs also have elite return units, which is why they rank No. 1 in the NFL in average starting field position after kickoffs at the 28.41. In comparison, the Browns rank 31st at the 23.62. — Stuckey
No. 1 vs. No. 1: This matchup features the No. 1 passing offense vs. the No. 1 passing defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
The Browns defense will actually provide the biggest test Patrick Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs’ passing offense will have faced this year.
Take a look at some of the Browns metrics:
- No. 4 in yards per pass (7.0)
- No. 1 pass defense DVOA
- No. 1 in passer rating against (77.1)
- No. 1 in interceptions (12)
- No. 2 in the NFL against tight ends
Rookie CB Denzel Ward (79.7 PFF grade) looks like the real deal. After passing his test last week in shadow duty against Antonio Brown, he will have another one this week against Tyreek Hill. If Ward shuts down TyFreak, he could earn his third Rookie of the Week honors of 2018. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Browns
The Chiefs seem close to getting stud pass rusher Justin Houston (hamstring) back, but safety Eric Berry (heel) remains MIA. The health of Hill (groin) is also concerning, given he practiced in full on Wednesday before being downgraded to limited on Thursday. Center Mitch Morse (concussion) remains in the protocol.
The only Browns starters seemingly at risk of missing the game are center JC Tretter (ankle) and linebacker Joe Schobert (hamstring), although wide receivers Antonio Callaway (ankle) and Rashard Higgins (knee) are both banged up.
Where Cleveland can exploit K.C.: The Chiefs’ run defense continues to be its biggest weakness.
KC ranks 32nd in the NFL in yards per rush allowed (5.4) and 32nd in run defense DVOA.
The problem is the Browns O-line has been absolutely dreadful in both the rushing game (32nd in power success rate) and passing game (NFL-high 33 sacks allowed). Cleveland will need to find something on the ground to extend drives and exploit the Chiefs’ weakness.
In the passing game, the Chiefs have been vulnerable over the middle (bad safeties) against tight ends and slot receivers.
Cleveland is weak on the outside at receiver, but has the talent at tight end (David Njoku) and slot (Jarvis Landry) for Baker Mayfield to have some success. But the Browns need to eliminate the drops (they currently lead the league). — Stuckey
DFS edge: Njoku disappointed last week, but he still played 84% of the snaps on Sunday and ran 32 pass routes on Mayfield’s 44 dropbacks. He was averaging 9.0 targets/game since Week 4 with Mayfield before his zero-target outing against the Steelers.
On deck is a Chiefs defense that’s giving up 8.3 targets and 76.0 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends. Njoku costs $4,600 on DraftKings with +2.36 Projected Plus/Minus in our FantasyLabs Models. —Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Browns +9.5
My model once again thinks the Chiefs are overvalued this Sunday. The Browns have the talent to be a decent football team and they may have just rid themselves of the biggest problem holding them back in Hue Jackson.
You never feel comfortable betting against Kansas City because you know there is a chance its offense can explode and leave you with no chance to cover in the third quarter, but I think the Browns can hang around in this game.
Nine-and-a-half points is too many at home. — Travis Reed
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.