NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Raiders vs. Browns: Expert’s Live Betting Strategy with COVID Impacting Monday
Getty Images. Pictured: Browns RB Nick Chubb, Raiders QB Derek Carr
|Time||5 p.m. ET|
First, Cleveland didn’t get either of its top two quarterbacks back, so it’ll be Nick Mullens making the start. I’m not sure that’s as devastating as it seems — Mullens played good backup minutes for the 49ers, and it’s not like Case Keenum or an injured Baker Mayfield have been much better than that.
Really, the Browns didn’t get much help with the extra time.
John Johnson returns at safety, but they’re still missing their other top two safeties, the majority of their cornerbacks, as well as Jadeveon Clowney and Malik McDowell. They do get a guard back in Wyatt Teller, but are missing both tackles. And they returned a tight end, but are missing the starter, and are still without Jarvis Landry after already trading away Odell Beckham Jr.
Monday night’s Browns roster is nothing like the team this was supposed to be. And remember, head coach Kevin Stefanski is out, too.
Still, the Raiders have struggled so badly over the past six weeks while the Browns have more to play for and have shown they’ll play through adversity. With a line that has moved literally 10 full points, I don’t feel confident betting this game before it kicks off — before we have an idea of how these teams show up mentally.
My best play remains what it was before: I’m looking to take advantage of the severe first- and fourth-quarter splits. Cleveland is the better team early in games, by far, and potentially even more so with a third-string QB and a few scripted drives. But the other big change is the weather, with Saturday’s rains giving way to Monday’s clear skies, so Derek Carr should have his way against Cleveland’s mostly second-string secondary — especially late in the game, when the Raiders are terrific and the Browns shrink.
I’ll sit this one out pre-game but look to bet the Raiders live if the Browns take an early lead that looks scripted or unsustainable. (You can follow me in the Action app to receive notifications whenever I track a pick.)
If I can get the Raiders at a plus number, I’ll either bet the live moneyline or play for a cover at +3.5 or longer — likely sometime in the second quarter or at the half — and hope the Raiders’ depth and superior talent wins out against a Browns team still missing far too much.
PICK: Live bet Raiders +3.5 (or better) or ML if Browns take early lead
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Editor’s note: The rest of this story features our expert’s analysis of this game before Monday, so odds and other information may be stale. You can still click the arrow to read it.
You surely know about all the COVID issues around the NFL by now — that’s why this game got postponed — and the Browns have been hit as hard as any team. As of Sunday, it looks like they could be without at least 11 starters. And considering there’s 11 players each on offense and defense, they could be missing literally half of their starters for Monday night’s matchup.
It looks like that could include their first- and second-string quarterbacks, leaving Nick Mullens in line for the surprise start. They’ll also be missing their top wide receiver (Jarvis Landry) and tight end (Auston Hooper), both starting safeties, and four of their top-six corners. Oh, and head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive, too.
Before you bet this game, be sure to check the latest injury reports and news from beat writers like ESPN’s Jake Trotter. And in truth, you probably need to wait until kickoff to place your bet — if you place one at all.
Raiders vs. Browns Matchup
|Raiders Offense||DVOA Rank||Browns Defense|
|Raiders Defense||DVOA Rank||Browns Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Raiders Are Reeling
Though it’s been a brutal week for the Browns with COVID news, it’s the Raiders’ season that is reeling. They just got smashed for the second time in a month by the Chiefs and have now lost five of six games with 16 or fewer points scored in every loss.
The season went off the rails when everything went down with Jon Gruden and Henry Ruggs earlier this season, and the Raiders really haven’t been the same since. The offense has really missed the speed component with Ruggs opening things up downfield, and it hasn’t helped that Darren Waller remains out due to injury.
The Raiders haven’t run the ball well all season with their offensive line struggling to create room. Derek Carr has been among the league leaders in passing yards, but he’s struggled over this recent stretch without Waller and Ruggs.
Las Vegas has been even worse on defense, especially against the pass. This team was once 3-0, but looked fraudulent then, and has since been exposed. Despite all this, playoffs are still a possibility for the Raiders. Could this opportunity against Browns backups be the perfect break?
Browns At Least Have Nick Chubb
Are any of the Browns’ trends even relevant? It’s impossible to say at this point since it’s so hard to know what sort of team they’ll put out there, but we’ll try.
They’ve actually been a borderline top-10 team over the past six weeks by Expected Points Added (EPA), per RBSDM. For the season, the Browns have been mostly average. You can see from the chart above that they’re right around league average on offense, defense, and overall DVOA.
The one thing they continue to do well is run the football. While just about everyone else seems to be missing, Nick Chubb is fully healthy and ready to go, and he should get a huge workload — especially with Kareem Hunt out. But the Browns are missing both tackles and a guard and don’t have good offensive line depth, so even that strength could be mitigated.
The Browns haven’t passed the ball well. This should have been a get-right opportunity for the passing game as bad as the Raiders pass defense is, but now Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum, Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper are on the COVID list.
Mullens is one of the best third-string QBs in the league, but that’s damning with faint praise. He doesn’t have many targets available, so it’s a rough spot.
NFL Pick: Raiders vs. Browns
Editor’s note: This section was written before we had final confirmation on the Browns’ COVID situation heading into Monday night’s game. Please read our expert’s updated take above.
How do we bet a game when we have no idea who is playing in it?
The Raiders defense is ripe for the picking, but the Browns may not have any pickers available. On the other side, Cleveland has just about no one left in the secondary, but as ice cold as Carr and the Las Vegas offense have been, we’ll see just how much he can take advantage of the opportunity.
There’s one angle to keep an eye on — and it’s the only one I can play given the information we have as of now.
The Browns have been one of the league’s fastest starting teams. They’ve been terrific on early downs and great in the first quarter. Per RBSDM, their offense ranks third on first and second down EPA per play. They also rank fourth in first quarter EPA offensively, but they drop to bottom-five in the fourth quarter and overtime. They’re bottom-five on late downs, too, and especially bad passing in those spots.
The Raiders are just the opposite. They’ve consistently started slow all season. They are the worst first quarter team in football by EPA outside of the terrible Jets, but Carr and the offense come alive late in the game. The Raiders rank top five in EPA in the fourth quarter and overtime, and Carr has three game-winning drives, a fourth quarter comeback and three overtime wins this season.
This season, the Browns have been great early in games but horrible late while the Raiders have been terrible early but terrific late.
I’m going to wait and look to live bet this game. Part of that is because, frankly, I need to see who is actually playing. But it’s partly so I can take advantage of that trend.
I’ll look to live bet the Raiders moneyline at around even money once they get off to another one of those slow starts. Maybe the Browns’ backups come out and jump to an early lead with a big adrenaline push — it’s not uncommon for teams to come out with low energy in a spot like the Raiders are with their opponent missing key names.
While I don’t mind putting my money on the Raiders knowing they’ll be the stronger and better team in the second half, what if they jump out to an early lead and I never get that opportunity? In a game like this, that’s a chance we’ll have to take.
Pick: Live bet Raiders ML after 1Q if they start slow | Bet to: Near even money
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