2020 Cleveland Browns Predictions and Season Win Total Picks
I have a fairly simple, straightforward approach to finding value in NFL futures betting. The first rule is the easiest: find Everyone’s Sleeper Team and bet against it, aggressively.
You know about Everybody’s Sleeper Team. It is the team that you spend all summer listening to media bobbleheads gushing about. It’s the team that is supposed to “make the jump” or “come out of nowhere”. Usually this team made several splashy offseason moves – either by spending big in free agency or landing some potential studs in a trade or in the draft – and now they are being cranked through the Hype Machine.
And almost every time they flop.
Three years ago the Oakland Raiders were Everybody’s Sleeper Team. After some surprise success in 2016, the Raiders had a Las Vegas season total of 10.0 and were expected to contend for an AFC title.
The result? They went 6-10.
Two years ago, the San Francisco 49ers were Everybody’s Sleeper Team. Remember? A late-season winning streak in 2017 after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade had everyone buzzing about the 49ers heading into 2018.
The result? They went 4-12.
Last year the Cleveland Browns were Everybody’s Sleeper Team. Their seven-win improvement in 2018 and some high-profile offseason additions – Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham, etc. – led to realistic discussions about the Browns as a Super Bowl contender.
The result? They went 6-10.
In case you were wondering, it looks like Everybody’s Sleeper Team this year is the Buffalo Bills.
One thing I have noticed about Everybody’s Sleeper Team is that the following season they are usually completely forgotten about. Some of that is the media moving on to gawk at the latest shiny thing. Some of it is a scorned betting public still angry about being fleeced by these teams the year prior. And I have always been a believer that these situations create value. After all, there was a reason that people were enamored with these teams in the first place.
I think that Cleveland is in a perfect situation this year in terms of their level of expectations. Last year – comically – there were discussions about this team as a Super Bowl contender. But this summer? Crickets. No one is talking about the Browns as a contender. I think that this team is going to be much better and much more motivated this season, and I think there is a load of value surrounding the Browns.
The main problem last year was that Freddie Kitchens was a goddamn clown. He was so flagrantly in over his head it was comical. And now that the Browns rectified that disaster by bringing in Kevin Stefanski they will be significantly better. Stefanski is a rookie coach. But unlike Kitchens, he actually has significant coordinator and assistant experience in the NFL.
Cleveland’s roster is actually really solid. I still have major questions about Baker Mayfield. But either he or backup Case Keenum should have no problem putting up big numbers in an offense that features Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, Austin Hooper, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The Browns also bolstered their offensive line in a big way, adding left tackle Jack Conklin in free agency and right tackle Jedrick Willis in the draft. Throw in the underrated signing of fullback Andy Janovich, and the Browns offense should be much more physical this year.
The issues on the defense – mainly a lack of depth – can be covered at another time. The bottom line is that their starting 11 on defense are good enough. And the Browns defense will improve if they can finally get some help from an offense that has finished No. 20 or worse in scoring for 12 straight years (and 16 of 17).
Cleveland also has a very favorable schedule this season. After a tough opener at Baltimore, the Browns get three of their next four games at home, and they play seven straight games against teams that missed the playoffs last year. Cleveland has a stretch of three straight home games in November, and from Oct. 5-Nov. 26 its only two road trips are to Pittsburgh (136 miles) and Cincinnati (249 miles).
The Browns bandwagon was bloated and overblown last year. Now everyone has sold their stock in this team for pennies on the dollar, and the hype around this group is nil. I’m buying low on this group. There is plenty of talent. And now that they have baseline competence in the coaching staff – something that wasn’t even close to the case last year – I think that they will be a threat in the AFC North.
Take Cleveland Browns ‘Over’ 8.5 Wins.
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