Detroit is winless so far in 2021 when they travel to Cleveland in one of the apparent mismatches in Week 11. We tell you how to make sense of this matchup with our Lions and Browns picks and predictions.
The Detroit Lions might finish winless this season, but they will not be the first to go 0-17 because they actually come off a 16-16 tie in Pittsburgh. In theory — and how funny would this be — the Lions could still become the first-ever club with multiple 16 loss campaigns. On the other side, this is nothing short of a must-win game for the playoff-hopeful Cleveland Browns.
Detroit is 16-5 all-time versus Cleveland, including four playoff meetings way back in the 1950s. The Lions have won the past four, but they haven’t played since 2017.
Here are my picks and predictions for the NFL Week 11 matchup between the Lions and Browns (odds via DraftKings; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Lions vs. Browns Game Info
Date/Time: Sunday, November 21, 1 p.m. ETTV: FoxLocation: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OHWeather: 47 degrees, occasional light rain
Lions vs. Browns Odds Analysis
This spread is currently making the Browns 10-point favorites, although I think it will rise when the Lions make an official quarterback decision for Sunday. The split is 50/50 on both teams.
Because the Lions might be giving a guy his first NFL start under center, the total has dropped from 46 to 44.5. That may keep going. There is a 60 percent lean on the Under.
Lions vs. Browns Picks
Browns -10 (-130) ???Under 44.5 (-130) ????
SEE ALSO: Packers vs. Vikings Week 11 Picks
Lions vs. Browns Predictions
Cleveland -10 (-130)
I would never bet an NFL game sitting right on 10 (just like I wouldn’t at seven or three) because of the push factor. Thus, I’d shop around to see if any books have the spread Browns -9.5 or pay a little extra for the half-point down.
One never knows which Browns team will show up. The one that destroyed a good Bengals side in Cincinnati in Week 9? Or the one obliterated in New England 45-7 last week? To be fair in that Pats game, the Browns were without their top two running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb, third in the league in rushing, is trending toward a return this week, but Hunt won’t be back yet.
Detroit caught a major break last Sunday when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out with COVID-19 and the Lions were able to forge a 16-16 tie, although they could have won it at the end of regulation. Kicker Ryan Santoso, filling in for injured Austin Seibert, was way short on a 48-yard field goal.
One never knows which Lions team will show up, either. In Detroit’s game before last week versus Philadelphia, the Lions were embarrassed 44-6 by a mediocre opponent.
Detroit is 5-1 against the spread as an underdog of at least four points this season, but I’m going against the trend almost solely on Detroit’s quarterback situation as we'll talk about below.
Under 44.5 (-130)
This is one of my favorite Under plays this year. No question the weather will make passing a bit of a chore. As it is, Detroit has scored fewer than 20 points in eight straight games, and no other team has a streak of longer than three in 2021.
Those poor offensive showings were with Jared Goff under center. The former number one overall pick clearly is never going to live up to expectations, but he can be a competent QB at times.
Goff is a major question Sunday with an oblique injury suffered in overtime against the Steelers. If you have ever had an oblique injury, you aren’t throwing a football in an NFL game. Even though David Blough is listed as the number two on the depth chart and had a good preseason, former undrafted free agent Tim Boyle will apparently start if Goff can’t.
Boyle played the past three seasons for the Packers and attempted a total of four passes in 2019, never sniffing a start. He injured his thumb this preseason and had surgery but is set to be activated off injured reserve and is taking first-team reps in practice early this week. Good luck against a Cleveland defense featuring Defensive Player of the Year favorite and sacks leader Myles Garrett.
Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield, meanwhile, had been playing through an injured non-throwing shoulder and then left against the Pats last Sunday with a knee injury. Coach Kevin Stefanski said he is "confident" Mayfield will play but at what level? Case Keenum may see action. Starting wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones left Wednesday’s practice injured.
It's why our best pick for this Lions and Browns game is the Under. It is 4-0 in Detroit’s past four on the road and 4-1 in Cleveland’s past five as a favorite.
Picks made on 11/17/2021 at 3:43 p.m. ET.