The Denver Broncos (2-6) are set to battle the Cleveland Browns (2-5) Sunday afternoon at Empower Field at Mile High. Kickoff is set for 2:25 p.m. MST on CBS.
Here is a betting guide to Sunday’s game, presented by Denver Sports Betting.
Both the Broncos and Browns lost last week in frustrating fashion. The Broncos suffered yet another crippling late-game defeat, dropping to the Indianapolis Colts 15-13, although they did cover the spread (+5).
The New England Patriots ran Cleveland into the ground, 27-13, covering the spread (-10.5) with relative ease and further dampening the Browns season.
The Broncos are an even 4-4 against the spread this season and are currently four-point (+4) home underdogs with the Browns coming to town.
Cleveland has been one of the worst teams in the league ATS this season, covering just 28.6% of the time with a 2-5 record.
According to the Action Network’s NFL model, the Browns have a 56% chance to win the game with the true point spread being CLE (-2), giving the Broncos some added value with the Browns currently favored by four points.
As of Saturday morning, 81% of public bets are going towards the Browns -4. Cleveland is also taking in 66% of public money on the money line (-200). The Broncos money line is listed at +170.
The Browns have a clear advantage on offense. While quarterback Baker Mayfield has struggled throughout the season, he is still much better than Broncos’ starter Brandon Allen.
Allen has never played in a regular-season game and will need to avoid being sacked by Browns’ rusher Myles Garrett. Additionally, the Broncos no longer have Emmanuel Sanders, and both Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, the Broncos primary running backs, have been dealing with injuries throughout the week.
There is a good chance the Broncos’ offense implodes from the get-go, and if Allen and company sputter, Denver will struggle mightily to put points on the board. While rookie quarterbacks have fared well this season, it appears Allen has a long way to go before becoming an NFL caliber quarterback.
Cleveland’s offense ranks in the bottom half of the league in both average yards per game (345.3) and points per game (19.0). Mayfield has yet to synchronize with Odell Beckham Jr., and his deficiencies as a quarterback have been exposed in his sophomore season.
Despite Cleveland’s shortcomings on offense, the Browns will not need to run up the scoreboard to emerge with a victory.
Given Allen’s inexperience at the professional level, Broncos’ offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello will probably try to keep the playbook simple for the rookie. That said, the Broncos play call has been stale the entire season, even with a novice quarterback in Joe Flacco, and one could imagine what it will look like with an amateur quarterback come Sunday.
The Broncos offense has been far worse than the Browns this season, averaging just 15.6 points and 312.6 totals yards of offense per game.
The over/under opened up at o43 but has since dropped to o39, with 61% of the public taking the under.
While it’s not overly challenging to imagine the Browns ravaging the Broncos, Denver’s defense has been strong this season. The Browns have struggled to establish a flow on offense, and that will not be easy against the Broncos defense.
This game will come down to the Broncos’ ability to score points. Should Allen prove to be competent in the pocket and lead Denver to multiple touchdowns, the Broncos certainly have a chance to cover and win outright.
That said, common sense leads one to believe that Allen will struggle. Additionally, the Browns are in desperate need of a win in order to keep their slim playoff chances alive.
With their backs against the wall, expect the Browns to come out firing, although it would not be surprising if the Denver defense managed to keep things close through four quarters.
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