Thursday Night NFL Preview: Denver at Cleveland
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 11/05/2008
In terms of overcoming cold trends, the Denver Broncos have a tall task on their hands Thursday night when they travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns in the NFL's first Thursday Night NFL Network game of the season. The Broncos have not only been struggling against the number but they are also in a precarious situation as an underdog in a Thursday night game.
Since the NFL began scheduling midweek Thursday games around Week 11 of each season, the underdog has only covered the spread three out of 11 times. Denver enters the game at +3.5. Last season the underdogs were 1-6 ATS on Thursdays.
That might just add more fuel to the fire for bettors who have been fading the Denver Broncos. Bettors going against Mike Shanahan's group have been making quite the profit this season. The Broncos, despite leading their division, have the second worst ATS record in the NFL with a 1-7 mark. This is a trend that has carried over from last season. In the Broncos last 32 games, they have gone 7-24-1 ATS. Even worse, in Denver's last eight November games their mark is 2-6 ATS.
Despite sitting in third place in its division and with a 3-5 straight up record, the Browns enter the game with trends on their side. Along with the Thursday night domination by favored teams, the Browns have also enjoyed plenty of success at home over their last 11 games. Cleveland is 9-2 ATS at home and 4-1 ATS in its last five November games. The Cleveland trends need to be taken with a grain of salt though as this will be Brady Quinn's first start under center. The former first round draft pick has been virtually untested and has seen very little action since being drafted out of Notre Dame two years ago.
Denver enters the game with very few issues at the quarterback position. Jay Cutler has led the league's third best offense with 2,168 passing yards this season. The team averages 269 yards passing per game, fourth best in the NFL but only 105 yards rushing per game, an unusually low number for a Denver Broncos team. The reason why Denver is only 4-4 despite those offensive numbers is because of the team's struggles in the red zone and on defense. Despite averaging the third most yards in the league, the Broncos have only 23.8 points per game to show for it, only 12th best in the NFL. Defensively the Broncos have been atrocious. Teams are gaining 389 yards per game on them, second worst in the NFL and scoring 27.6 points per game, third worst in the NFL.
The Browns offense, however, has been nearly as inept as Denver's defense. The Browns rank in the bottom six of the league in all offensive categories, total yards, passing yards, rushing yards and points scored. Jamal Lewis has been carrying the running game with 533 yards this season. The passing game has hit a snag with the struggles of Derek Anderson, the illness and suspensions of Kellen Winslow Jr. and the inability of Braylon Edwards to hold onto the ball. Anderson has a quarterback rating of 68.9 and nearly as many interceptions, seven, as touchdowns, nine.
Public action has been reported as distributed evenly on both teams. The posted over/under in the game is 46. Last season the over was 5-2 in Thursday games.