Monday Night Football Free Pick Cleveland at Washington
by CarbonSports - 8/18/2014
Game: Cleveland @ Washington (-2.5); Total set at 42
It may only be a preseason game, but you know ESPN has to love getting a matchup like this. We will hear plenty about QB's Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III throughout the night, but right now only the latter will be starting come Week 1 in September. Manziel still has time to make his case for the #1 spot and needs a strong performance tonight to help his cause, but will it be enough to get him and his teammates their first victory of the year?
Cleveland coughed up a late lead to Detroit last week thanks to numerous penalties that kept the Lions final drive alive. Obviously preseason results don't matter long-term, but for a Browns team trying to become a playoff contender for the first time in years, building a winning program starts in the month of August. If you took Cleveland ATS early last week you managed to cash at +2.5, but those who followed the steam and got the Browns late at -1 (or higher) were burned by that late score. New coach Mike Pettine hasn't been happy all week about how his team finished that game, so look for the Browns to have a much sharper effort in prime time tonight.
Washington is trying to be a respectable playoff contender again this year after a dismal 2013 brought about plenty of change. Having RG III as their starting QB wasn't one of those changes though and the Heisman winner from Baylor didn't look great in limited action last week. Griffin was 2-for-4 for only 9 yards against the Patriots as his backups Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins showed they can still start in this league with some great numbers. Each of those QB's threw for over 100 yards and a TD in the 23-6 win and with the #2 spot on the depth chart still up for grabs between those two, I doubt we see anything different from them tonight.
In fact, that QB rotation for Washington typically makes them a great play in preseason because they've got three guys who've started significant games in this league before and are trying to prove their worth to the new coaching staff. Those QB's put up those numbers with none of their top-three WR's suiting up against the Pats, so there is a level of comfort within the entire system for everyone involved on Washington's offense. Some of those starters will see action in this one and that means we should see some scoring drives in the first half.
Cleveland would like to be much better offensively in their second game, but the pressure of this QB battle may be affecting them negatively. It came out earlier this week that the locker room is basically split on whether or not Hoyer or Manziel should be the starter and when the rest of the team can't completely get behind one guy it makes for a lot of tension within the franchise. The Browns are 0-7 ATS as underdogs in the preseason the last seven times they've played a team coming off a SU and ATS win, while Washington is 5-0 ATS in August when coming off a double digit ATS win and playing a team off a SU loss.
All of that adds up to what I believe is a strong play laying the points with Washington at home tonight. RG III will still be limited as they monitor his health, but he's got two capable backups behind him and the tension/pressure the Browns starters/second teamers are under will be their undoing for the second straight week.
Take Washington -2.5
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