Rams vs. Browns Betting Odds & Picks: Cleveland Undervalued on Sunday Night Football?

Rams vs. Browns Betting Odds & Picks: Cleveland Undervalued on Sunday Night Football? article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Odell Beckham Jr.

Rams at Browns Betting Odds

  • Odds: Rams -4.5
  • Total: 48
  • Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: NBC

Odds above as of 7 p.m. ET on Sunday and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can exclusively bet every NFL spread this season at reduced juice (-105).

Preseason hype around the Browns quickly sputtered after their blowout loss to the Titans in Week 1. But should Baker Mayfield and Co. really be 3.5-point home underdogs against the Rams?

Our analysts break down the most important angles of this game, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds and an against-the-spread pick.

Sunday Night Football Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Rams (and it’s not even close)

The Rams listed C Austin Blythe (ankle) as questionable, along with Aaron Donald (back), but Sean McVay said that Donald will play on Sunday night.

The Browns are in terrible shape, placing David Njoku (concussion/wrist) on injured reserve and listing seven other players as questionable. Most notable are cornerbacks Greedy Williams (hamstring) and Denzel Ward (hamstring), who were a late add to the report on Thursday (limited practices), but then both missed practice on Friday.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Ward is not expected to play but that the team is more optimistic about Williams. Either way, it could be a long night for a potentially shorthanded Browns’ secondary. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Rams -2
  • Projected Total: 49

The 2-0 Rams have somehow exceeded expectations after being the Super Bowl runner-up and are 2-0 against the spread.

But their wins have come against the Panthers, who had clearly been playing Cam Newton at less than 100%, and the Saints, who lost Drew Brees during the first quarter of their Week 2 matchup. So one can imagine how the Rams could a tad overrated right now.

On the other side, we have a Browns team that has started off 2019 on a shaky note, with their only win coming against the Jets who were forced to play their third-string QB for most of the game. I actually pointed out the potential for the Browns to get off to a slow start as the first half of their schedule is full of potential playoff teams while the second half is the exact opposite.

This is our first real buy-low opportunity on the Browns. Now that the line is up to +3.5, we can get the hook on the most valuable key number in NFL betting (3). Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Rams Run Offense vs. Browns Run Defense

The reports of Todd Gurley’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Sure, he’s no longer getting 20-plus touches per game. But he has a career-high 5.3 yards per carry and 60% rushing success rate this season.

In fact, the Rams have an NFL-high 62% rushing success rate. They’re No. 2 overall with 5.6 adjusted line yards per carry, and the Browns have a run-flowing funnel defense — they’re No. 8 in Football Outsiders’ pass DVOA, but No. 20 in rush DVOA. And in 2018, they were No. 7 in pass defense but No. 25 in run defense.

The Rams are the league’s eighth-heaviest running team with a 46.6% rush rate, and they are incentivized to attack the Browns on the ground.

nfl-odds-picks-predictions-cheat-sheet-week-3-2019
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp

We’ve seen only two weeks of action, but the numbers suggest the Browns will be especially vulnerable if the Rams rely on the power running game.

  • Rams Offense Power Runs: 100% success rate
  • Browns Defense Power Runs: 100% success rate allowed

On top of that, the Rams under head coach Sean McVay have tended to run the ball more on the road than at home, perhaps in an attempt to take the home team’s crowd out of the game.

  • Rams on the road (17 games): 29.9 runs, 47.5% rush rate
  • Rams at home (17 games): 27.4 runs, 41.4% rush rate

Last year, the Browns had Pro Football Focus’ lowest tackling grade (35.0), due primarily to their linebackers. I expect the Rams to attack them regularly throughout the game. Matthew Freedman

Expert Pick

Mike Randle: Browns +3.5

After a disappointing 43-13 season-opening loss to Tennessee, the Browns host a primetime battle with the defending NFC champions. While they’re a 3.5-point underdog, they’ll face a Rams offense that’s much less potent on the road.

Since 2018, there has been a significant difference in Jared Goff’s road/home game averages. He averages 98.1 fewer passing yards, 1.34 fewer touchdown passes and a whopping 13.46 fewer fantasy points on the road.

The Los Angeles rushing offense is also less potent as a result of Gurley’s chronic knee problems and the offseason departure of run-plowing guard Rodger Saffold and starting center John Sullivan. Current starting guard Austin Blythe (ankle) is also questionable.

The Browns match up well against L.A.’s passing attack as they feature the eighth-best pass defense DVOA. Hopefully they’ll have one or both of their core secondary pieces in Williams and Ward. The Browns will still certainly generate pressure, as they feature a defensive front that ranked second with eight sacks through two weeks.

Offensively, look for Cleveland to feature running back Nick Chubb against a Los Angeles defense that allowed 5.5 yards per carry on the road in Week 1 at Carolina.

The 3.5-point spread is too much against a Rams team with questionable offensive line play and shaky road quarterback efficiency. Cleveland should be led by their offensive playmakers — Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham and Chubb — and cover the spread in this primetime upset opportunity.

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