After a tough loss in L.A. to the Chargers — a game which saw the Browns lead by two touchdowns in the third quarter and have every opportunity to win late — Cleveland will head back home to welcome the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. With Cleveland favored by three points, oddsmakers are clearly respecting the Chargers and forgiving the Browns a bit for their loss, but should you?
With the stage set, let’s get into who wins this game. We’ll go over the NFL odds and give out our NFL pick at the top-rated sportsbooks.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday, October 17, 2021 – 04:05 PM EDT at FirstEnergy Stadium
Kyler Murray is playing like an MVP right now. He’s leading the league in completion percentage at 75.2%, has a 113 quarterback rating, and has amassed 1,512 passing yards and 13 total touchdowns through the air and on the ground.
The No. 1 overall pick from a couple years ago will now get to face a Browns defense that just got annihilated in the passing game by Justin Herbert — a quarterback that’s at the very best on the same plane as Murray.
Arizona comes into this one off a win in a rock fight with the 49ers, a game where Murray still averaged 7.7 yards per attempt despite a very low score. It was also a win for the offensive line again, which allowed two sacks to a formidable pass rush and has now allowed just 10 on the season, which is tied for 14th in the NFL.
Aside from the weapons this Cardinals team has, we should mention that they have not only won all five games they’ve played, but they’ve also covered in four of them. They are 2-0 against the spread as underdogs and failed to cover four points in their one-point win over Minnesota, which came on a missed field goal late.
Trying to Find a Groove
The Browns are on the other end of this spectrum with three covers in five weeks, kind of shuffling their feet when it comes to this season. While it’s hard to fault them for failing to cover as 13.5-point favorites against the surprisingly good Texans, it’s easy to hold them accountable for their Week 5 loss to the Chargers.
Justin Herbert threw for nearly 400 yards in that game, and the Browns’ pass rush failed to make any sort of impact. They lead the league in QB hits and have 16 sacks so far, but even the best pass rush in the league failed to have any sort of impact on defense.
Now, Cleveland ranks 11th in passing yards allowed per game with 223.2, a number that is probably inflated given they got to face the Texans already, and a rookie quarterback in his first start.
The Browns’ rushing defense has remained one of the best in football, as has their rushing offense. Still, it’s hard to get excited after such a poor showing by the secondary.
Because of that, for our NFL pick, I see tremendous value in taking the Cardinals as underdogs here on the road. The secondary showed too many weaknesses, and Murray’s speed should neutralize this great pass rush.
NFL Pick: Cardinals ML (+150)
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.