So what's the betting impact of Josh McCown replacing the injured Robert Griffin III at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, you ask? Depends on who's answering. It appears bookmakers and the betting public have opposing opinions when it comes to the signal-caller shakeup in Cleveland.
The Browns will play host to the 1-0 Ravens this week following an ugly road loss to the Eagles in the season opener. Making his first regular-season start for the Browns, RG3 was an uninspiring 12-of-26 for 190 yards with no touchdowns and a pick. Much of that was done with a bum left shoulder that would leave him on injured reserve less than 24 hours later. .
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So the RG3 era in Cleveland has been quickly short-circuited. The Browns turn back to McCown. Now in his 14th season, the 37-year-old McCown made eight starts last season. The Browns went 1-7. Things were only slightly better versus the number (3-5).
So that's the bad news. The good news is McCown is a rather steady hand not prone to turn the ball over (12 TDs vs. just 4 INTs last season). He also has a better group of receivers to work with and a much better coach at the helm than a season ago. Oh, and his one win last year? How about a 33-30 overtime victory against these same Ravens.
Odds consultant Scott Cooley of Bookmaker said oddsmakers view McCown as an upgrade from RG3. But wait, if that's the case, then why does the line keep growing?
Early Sunday evening, the Ravens opened as low as a 4-point favorite at some shops. The line would settle at Ravens -5 overnight and into Monday morning. But after the RG3 injury news broke early Monday afternoon Eastern time, the line quickly shot to Ravens minus-7 virtually across the board.
"The adjustment is based on public perception that McCown is a downgrade from Griffin," Cooley said.
But perception may not be reality in this case. In this instance, Griffin's big reputation-Heisman Trophy winner, No. 2 overall pick-is preceding actual production in the public's view. In his first season with the Browns, RG3 had a rather non-descript preseason before giving little, if any, reason for optimism in the opener.
"Griffin was a bottom-tier quarterback in our player rating valuation, and actually, we view Josh McCown as a slight upgrade on the field. They are worth the same value to the spread, roughly 1-2 points."
So Ravens-Browns this week is really an interesting case study. Bookmakers and the betting public with completely different viewpoints. That would seem to make getting seven points with the Browns a gift, right?. Any takers?
McCown would seem to be a much better option to RG3 particularly versus the hard-hitting Ravens. See those hits the Eagles were laying on RG3? What do you think Terrell Suggs, who is constantly pushing the edge of dirty play, and the rest of that bunch on the Ravens 'D' would have done? It could have been ugly.
Instead, Baltimore is now tasked with facing a veteran pocket passer that's seen it all. Note McCown had a respectable 93.7 passer rating last season, which was the second-best of his long career. He posted a 109.0 passer rating in eight games with the Bears in 2014. There certainly could have been worse options for the Browns than McCown. Perhaps the home 'dawg will really be barking in the Dawg Pound on Sunday.
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