Browns vs. Raiders Odds & Picks: The Perfect Buy-Low Spot On Sunday
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images Pictured: Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
Browns vs. Raiders Odds
If you needed any more evidence of how bizarre 2020 is, the Cleveland Browns have started the season 5-2. After years of being perennial bottom-feeders, the Browns have put together their best start in 26 years.
Fresh off a 37-34 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns hope to keep the momentum going as they host the Las Vegas Raiders, who are coming off a 45-20 drubbing at the hands of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Weather figures to be a major factor in this matchup as temperatures are forecasted in the low 40s with 26 mph winds and a chance of precipitation. Nonetheless, both the total and spread were bet down from opening numbers. But is there still betting value?
Let’s take a closer look.
Las Vegas Raiders
Unlike Week 7, The Raiders offensive line will be in tact, as right tackle Trent Brown is off the COVID-19 reserve list and on track to play after practicing on Friday. With Brown’s proximity to the four other starting offensive linemen before the matchup against the Buccaneers, left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good, center Rodney Hudson and guard Gabe Jackson weren’t cleared to play until last Sunday morning as they were required to self-quarantine.
Las Vegas’ perfect storm of bad luck on the offense line didn’t stop there, as Brown’s backup, Patrick Omameh, was also inactive. The Raiders then lost right tackle Sam Young to a knee injury in the second quarter and Gabe Jackson was ejected in the third quarter.
Nevertheless, the Raiders struggled to run the ball with their offensive line woes against the NFL’s best run defense, with Josh Jacobs rushing for just 17 yards on 10 carries against Tampa Bay. That could change against a Browns defense that’s 19th in rushing efficiency and 20th in rushing success rate (per Sharp Football Stats).
With 26 mph winds we can expect the Raiders to lean on the ground game more than usual.
The weather will certainly limit long throws though the air, but believe it or not, we could actually see Derek Carr thrive in this spot. Carr is just 24th in intended air yards (7.3), but he’s deadly accurate on short to intermediate throws, connecting on more than 70% throughout every season of his career.
Carr has played the best football of his career this season, as he’s second in completion percentage (72.0), third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, third in quarterback rating (112.8) and ninth in touchdown passes (13th).
Darren Waller has emerged as Carr’s No. 1 option and one of the best tight ends in the league with 40 receptions for 345 yards and three touchdowns. With Cleveland allowing the seventh-most yards to tight ends, he could be in for a big game.
The Raiders are ninth in offensive DVOA and eighth in early down success rate, so they should have no problem scoring at will against a Browns defense that’s 24th in is 20th in defensive DVOA, 25th in passing efficiency and gave up 34 points and 468 total yards to the Bengals last week. It’s evident this Browns defense is a huge step down in quality compared to the Buccaneers: Tampa Bay is first in defensive DVOA, first in defensive passing efficiency and third in defensive rushing efficiency.
Unfortunately, this defense hasn’t be nearly as good as their offense, as the Raiders are 31st in points allowed (32.8 points per game), 31st in defensive efficiency and 30th in sacks (seventh). This means the Raiders are winning games on offense, and as long as they’re not playing a top-tier defense, they have a chance against any team.
The Browns have to be looking forward to the bye week as they come into this game afflicted with injuries. The Browns will be without the services of Odell Beckham Jr., and while he may not have a direct impact on the point spread, the Browns were already just 16th in passing success rate and 17th in explosive pass play rate (plays of 20 or more yards). It’s tough to imagine this improving in his absence.
In addition, Austin Hooper is out with an abdomen injury and Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry are playing through rib injuries.
Although Kareem Hunt has been solid in the absence of running back Nick Chubb, Cleveland’s rushing attack hasn’t been the same since the injuries to Chubb and right guard Wyatt Teller. Teller is Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated guard (94.1) this season.
Through the first four weeks of the season the Browns were fourth in rushing success rate, averaging 204.5 yards per game. Over the past three games, however, they’re 31st in rushing success rate while averaging 93.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks 26th over that span. The Bengals are just 24th in defensive rushing efficiency, and yet the Browns rushed for only 82 yards on 3.7 yards per carry against Cincinnati in Week 7.
Given the weather for this Sunday’s matchup, the Browns will need to run the ball to be successful.
Unlike Carr, Mayfield hasn’t had the same success throwing on short-to-intermediate throws, as he has completed just 61% and 57% on-target intermediate throws in the first two seasons of his career, respectively.
There’s been talk of Mayfield possibly being more consistent without Beckham Jr., and that certainly remains to be seen as he won’t have a consistent deep threat to stretch the field.
Myles Garrett continues his Defensive Player of the Year campaign with a league-high nine sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The Browns have generated a league-high 14 turnovers this season, and yet this is still among the worst defenses in the NFL — they’re 30th in points allowed (31.6 points per game) and 24th in defensive DVOA. If the Browns see any regression in turnover luck, this defense will perform even worse.
The Raiders were in a tough spot last week. They had a COVID-19 outbreak that caused uncertainty on their offensive line against the Buccaneers. Still, the Raiders were within four points of the Bucs in the fourth quarter before the game ultimately got out of hand.
Fortunately, the Browns are a step down in competition.
The Browns are 5-2 for the first time since 1994, but their five victories against come against teams — the Bengals (twice), Washington, Cowboys and Colts — that have a combined record of just 9-17-1 with a point differential of -88. Of those five, only the Colts have a winning record (4-2) and positive point differential (+42).
All things considered, this is the perfect spot to buy low on the Raiders after their 45-20 home loss to the Bucs: Since 2003, teams that have lost by 25 or more points are 237-209-8 (53.1%) against the spread the following week (per our Bet Labs data). This isn’t a significant edge, however it’s clear that teams that trail by more than three touchdowns tend to bounce back the following week.
And finally, road dogs of six or fewer points are 27-12 (69.2%). My model also makes this game a pick’em, so I bought low on the Raiders at +3 (get notifications as I make my picks), but I like them down to +2.5.
I would also recommend adding this play to a 6-point teaser along with the Packers (-0.5).
PICK: Raiders +2.5