The Browns are 6-3 but still sit in eighth place in the AFC. The Eagles are 3-5-1 but still lead the NFC East and are in position for a home playoff game in January. Despite the difference in records, Cleveland has been outscored by 28 points this season, only one point better than the Eagles (minus-29).
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday, November 22, 2020 – 01:00 PM EDT at FirstEnergy Stadium
Hold on to your butts, this game could provide some laughs. The Browns are a 3.5-point favorite at most NFL betting sites. Cleveland has two double-digit victories this season and both were games against the NFC East (Washington and Dallas). The 2020 NFC East is infamously 2-18-1 (.119) in non-division games this season, but the Eagles at least have the tie and one of the wins.
Can the Eagles Rebound?
There is not much you can trust Carson Wentz and the Eagles to do, but beating the Giants has been a sure thing since 2017. However, even that failed them on Sunday, as the Eagles lost 27-17, finishing 0-for-9 on third down. The running game looked solid again with Miles Sanders (85 yards), making his return to the lineup. However, between those third downs and the offensive line not holding up, the Eagles could finish enough drives. Even wide receiver Travis Fulgham, Philly’s 2020 standout, had his worst game with one catch on five targets.
If there was a bright spot, it was the first game this season where the Eagles had no giveaways. Wentz still leads the league in interceptions (12) and sacks (35), and this is a matchup where Myles Garrett (NFL-high 9.5 sacks) will be licking his chops to add to his totals this year. Garrett also has four forced fumbles, which are another issue Wentz has.
Both teams would like to lean on the run in this matchup. Cleveland’s run defense is mediocre (18th in DVOA), but most teams outside of the Raiders have not been able to dominate the Browns on the ground. When Wentz started to pick up his level of play this season, he was scrambling and using his legs more. He averaged 40.5 rushing yards per game in Weeks 3-6, but in the last three games, he has 35 total rushing yards and has regressed again, averaging 5.2 yards per pass since the Dallas win.
The Eagles are still likely to be without tight end Zach Ertz (ankle) for this one. Dallas Goedert has been back for a few games, but he had more yards in Week 1 than he’s had the rest of 2020 combined. The Eagles are still trying to get first-round rookie wideout Jalen Reagor involved in the offense as well. The talent has been improving around Wentz this season, but he must start playing better if the Eagles hope to be competitive in games that are winnable like this one.
The Cleveland Show (Run, Run, Run)
Remember when Baker Mayfield had his best moment of the season with 297 yards and five touchdown passes against the Bengals in Week 7? Well in the last two games, the Browns have scored 16 points, Mayfield has no touchdowns, and he has only thrown for 254 yards.
We might have to give him a pass though since the wind was significant in both Cleveland home games, even causing a 38-minute delay of Sunday’s 10-7 win over Houston. Weather reports early in the week are not that reliable, but it looks like there could be rain on Sunday in Cleveland. Let’s just hope for the sake of a good game, we actually get fair weather, and these teams could have a normal day of offense.
Regardless of the conditions, the Browns want to run the ball this year. We see something similar in Minnesota with Kirk Cousins keeping his attempts low and Dalvin Cook dominating the touches. Kevin Stefanski was the offensive coordinator there last year and he came to coach the Browns this year with a similar plan of utilizing Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb.
It wasn’t until Sunday that the Browns got Chubb back in the lineup and he delivered with 126 rushing yards. He even ran out of bounds instead of scoring a long touchdown to run out the clock. That caused the Browns to not cover the spread, so it has been a frustrating two weeks for betting on Cleveland games, but betting on the Browns to run is safe right now.
Hunt also rushed for 104 yards on Sunday, making it three 200-yard rushing games for the Browns this season. The Eagles have faced the third-most runs this season since they often are playing from behind. They are mediocre (13th in DVOA, 15th in yards per carry) at stopping them. There is no good reason for the Browns to change up their approach in this matchup.
If you are looking for a close game in your NFL picks this week, this one should fit the bill. The Eagles are one of two teams (Chargers the other) this season that have played nine close games (one-possession game in the fourth quarter). Cleveland has been blown out twice, but still has a 3-1 record in close games.
With Chubb back, the Browns have the best two-headed monster at running back in the league. Look for the Browns to run the ball well again, Mayfield to outplay Wentz, and the Browns should be able to move to 7-3. But also root for good weather so we can see a normal game again in Cleveland this year.
For more trends like this, check our NFL Cheat Sheet.
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