New Orleans -6 the Pick in Saints vs. Browns

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 5:53 PM GMT

The New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns both lost their 2014 season openers. But at least Cleveland managed to beat the NFL betting lines. Too bad nobody wants to bet on the Browns in Week 2.

Jason’s Record After Week 1: 1-4 ATS, 0-1 Totals

Profit: minus-6.6 units

What’s more important when you bet on football: talent, or value? Trick question. You can’t really separate these two things. Consider Sunday’s matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) between the New Orleans Saints and the Cleveland Browns. New Orleans has the talent, and Cleveland has the betting value as a 6-point home dog in what is still a regional market, Johnny Football notwithstanding. But the Browns also have value because we can count on casual fans to overrate the talent the Saints bring to the table.

So should we “do the right thing” and fade New Orleans? The sharps don’t seem to think so. According to our early consensus reports, bettors have been pounding the Saints at a 2:1 ratio since they opened as 6-point road faves, and with all the public money expected to come in on New Orleans over the weekend, there’s probably not much time left before this line hits the magic number seven. Many of the online sportsbooks on our NFL odds board have already moved the Saints to –6.5.

 

Cleveland Dreamer
It seems like every year, the sad-sack Browns look like they’ve improved enough to be live dogs in the football betting yard. Sometimes they even deliver. But not often:

2013: 4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS

2012: 5-11 SU, 8-7-1 ATS

2011: 4-12 SU, 7-7-2 ATS

2010: 5-11 SU and ATS

2009: 5-11 SU, 10-6 ATS

2008: 4-12 SU, 6-9-1 ATS

You might need to take some Zoloft after looking over those records – unless you took Cleveland at 'Under' 6.5 wins for your NFL picks (+130) when the regular season win-loss totals opened back in May. It’s even more difficult to have faith in the Browns after they were bought by Jimmy Haslam in 2012. They’re already on their third head coach and their third GM since Haslam took over.

Cleveland’s also on its third starting quarterback – four if you include the one start Thaddeus Lewis made in 2012. Brian Hoyer (79.8 career passer rating) is under center for now, and to his credit, Hoyer lit up the Pittsburgh Steelers (–5.5 at home) during the second half of their season opener, bringing the Browns all the way back from 27-3 to 27-27 before Shaun Suisham’s game-winning field goal with no time remaining. Cleveland covers! Cleveland covers!

 

The Color of Money
The Saints don’t want to hear about it. They were up 20-7 on the Atlanta Falcons (–3 at home) late in the first half, but they couldn’t hold onto the lead, eventually succumbing 37-34 in overtime. What happened to that greatly improved New Orleans defense under co-ordinator Rob Ryan?

Patrick Robinson happened. Ryan and the Saints have plenty of talent to work with, but there’s a hole in the secondary where Jabari Greer used to be. Champ Bailey was supposed to be Greer’s replacement at the left corner, but Bailey didn’t even make the 53-man roster after signing a two-year deal. That spot is now manned by Robinson and backed up by second-round pick Stan Jean-Baptiste out of Nebraska. Falcons QB Matt Ryan gleefully torched the Big Easy secondary for 448 passing yards and three TDs.

We don’t expect Hoyer to replicate those numbers in Week 2. Ryan is a two-time Pro Bowler with a wide array of targets to throw at. Hoyer went undrafted out of Michigan State and is missing Josh Gordon for the year due to the Sticky Icky. That’s not the kind of green Cleveland bettors wanted to see this year.

 

The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: NO

Defense/Special Teams: NO

Coaching: NO

Market Bias: CLE

Betting Line Value: CLE

Verdict: 1-star pick on NO

Free NFL Pick: Put 1.4 units on the Saints –6 (–104) at Marathon

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