NFL Betting Advice: Niners or Browns for Winless Season?
Ten-to-one. That's the price you could get most recently from Bovada if you wanted to bet that the Browns are going to end the season winless. And the price is the same for the 49ers - the other winless squad remaining. Neither team is very good - obviously. But does either have a chance at matching the Lions for all-time futility? And which team offers more value in this wildly entertaining bet - as long as you don't care about either of the teams? Let's put the two teams head-to-head to see which squad has the edge and what we can learn in the end:
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Futures odds: Both teams started the season with season win totals of 4.5. It seemed ambitious for both teams to win five games. As proof of how naive we can be, though, there were plenty of people out there who thought that Cleveland had a chance to be better than last year by a fair margin. I just did a quick survey of preseason season win total picks people made publicly, and more people had Cleveland going over than San Francisco. Neither team has the edge here - and neither stands much of a chance of going over now. The clear loser here, though, is any bettor naive enough to have faith in either of these teams - and I say that as one of the losers who was optimistic about one of the teams, though I reserve the right not to say which one. Edge: Neither.
QB Play: Neither team has had anything to write home about under center this year. San Francisco clearly didn't have a good option, so things turned out about how they were expected to. Cleveland, hilariously, thought that they had some upside at the position. They thought DeShone Kizer was the answer, which made it clear that they had never watched Kizer play in college. And Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler shockingly haven't been the answer, either. San Francisco's QB roster was only slightly less awful, but none of that matters now. At the trade deadline the Niners shocked the world by landing Jimmy Garoppolo for the reasonable price of just a second-rounder. He'll have every chance to be the future. The Browns slept through the opportunity to add him, and then they somehow traded too much for A.J. McCarron and then didn't file the paperwork in time. I don't know what's worse - thinking McCarron was a good idea, or screwing up something as simple as trading for McCarron. Now the Browns have a shockingly long list of guys they could have had but don't - and the stellar play of Carson Wentz this year hasn't helped. San Francisco potentially has their long-term solution. Cleveland will surely blow it again this offseason. And again and again. Edge: San Francisco.
Coaching: Hue Jackson has done some good things in his career, and he should be doing a good job in Cleveland. He's so handicapped by a lousy management and ownership in Cleveland, though, that he has little chance of success. He's a lost soul. Kyle Shanahan has no wins, but he's an outstanding coach - look at the step back Atlanta has taken without him - and he now has a QB to work with. Shanahan has less to overcome and more talent to begin with. Edge: San Francisco.
Remaining schedule: San Francisco has three winnable games in their next four - Arizona, the Giants, and at the Bears. They also have a bye week in two weeks, which will really help Garoppolo get assimilated. They play Tennessee and Jacksonville at home later on, too, and who knows where those teams will be by then. There are plenty of opportunities for San Francisco to win. Cleveland's schedule is tougher with five remaining road games compared to three for the Niners, and they have fewer soft games. Cleveland absolutely can do this. Edge: San Francisco.
The bottom line: San Francisco absolutely is not going winless. Heck, they'll have multiple wins. Cleveland has everything it takes to pull off a winless season - a lack of talent, injuries, front office incompetence, coaches with the glazed over eyes of confusion, horrific quarterbacking chaos, and the anger caused by botched maneuverings. They have a schedule that isn't brutal, but then they have already lost to the Colts, Bengals and Jets, so they don't need a soft schedule to look bad. The Browns, sadly, are more likely to win a game than not - if it was easy to be terrible more than one team would have done it. At this point and at this price, though, there is actually value in betting against a Cleveland win.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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