NFL Picks: Packers Really Do Plan To Play Preseason Game This Week Against Browns

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, August 11, 2016 10:41 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 10:41 PM UTC

I'm still unbeaten after one preseason prediction! That's because last week's Hall of Fame Game between the Packers and Colts was canceled. So on Friday, Green Bay opens the preseason at home vs. Cleveland. The game is a pick'em  on BetDSI.

Browns What To Watch For
I could criticize every team that passed on Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the 2005 draft, with Rodgers memorably sliding all the way to No. 24. But it has to especially hurt for the Browns. Cleveland had a new GM in Phil Savage and Coach in Romeo Crennel that year and brought Rodgers in for a pre-draft visit but didn't apparently like him enough to take him No. 3 overall. Instead, the team took Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards. He had one monster season in 2007 but was otherwise a bust. Cleveland did take a QB in the third round that year, Akron's Charlie Frye. How'd that work out?

Felt obligated to mention the Browns' QB issues in the draft because they will be starting a 25th different quarterback since returning to the NFL in 1999 come Week 1 of the regular season in Robert Griffin III. New head coach Hue Jackson named RGIII his starter on Monday, and really that's no surprise. Did anyone really expect Josh McCown to beat RGIII out? Presumably, Griffin will start on Friday because he hasn't had any game action since the 2015 preseason. He never took a regular-season snap last year with the Redskins, banished to third-team QB. Jackson has said he's eager to "watch our quarterback under duress'' for the first time.

Backup Josh McCown might get a bit more action than a veteran normally would because the Browns would like to raise his trade value. The Dallas Cowboys already have inquired about him. But the majority of action should go to Austin Davis and rookie Cody Kessler. If Davis plays well in the preseason, the Browns might  feel comfortable letting McCown go. They aren't keeping four quarterbacks.

You will not see the two most talented receivers on the Browns roster in this game in rookie first-round pick Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon -- both, like RGIII, from Baylor. Gordon has been reinstated  from a suspension but is dealing with a quad injury and on the PUP list. He hasn’t played or practiced since December 2014, and I know the Browns want to see him in some preseason action because he's still suspended the first four games of the regular season. Coleman suffered a hamstring injury this week. It's not serious but the team isn't taking any chances so he will sit. You know who is listed as one of Cleveland's starting receivers on the official depth chart right now? Former quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Cleveland was 1-3 last preseason, 1-3 against the spread on NFL odds and 0-4 'over/under.'


Packers What To Watch For
Rodgers has already made it quite clear he thinks very little of the preseason and wasn't happy at all the team was scheduled to play an extra one in the Hall of Fame Game. But Rodgers wasn't going to play in that one regardless. Most reports out of Cheeseland are that Rodgers is likely to play a series on Friday along with most of the No. 1s. The Packers mostly want to see what they have in second-year Brett Hundley and rookie Joe Callahan. The latter was going to start vs. the Colts.  Callahan, an undrafted free agent, threw for 12,878 yards and 130 touchdowns in four seasons at Division III Wesley College in Dover, Del. Last season, Callahan won the Gagliardi Trophy, that level's version of the Heisman Trophy.

You also won't see No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson, who remains on the PUP list and is not a sure thing to be ready for Week 1 of the season. Green Bay's big offseason free-agent acquisition, tight end Jared Cook, was activated from the PUP list on Tuesday but surely won't  play, either. Center Corey Linsley remains on the PUP list because of a hamstring injury.

This is a veteran team so not a ton of jobs are up for grabs. One big one is No. 3 receiver behind Nelson and Randall Cobb. Davante Adams entered camp as the favorite there but apparently hasn't looked very good. The other area to watch is at inside linebacker with the team moving Clay Matthews back outside.

Green Bay was 2-2 last preseason, 2-2 ATS on NFL picks and 3-1 O/U.


Series History
For what it's worth, this is the 25th time the Packers will play the Browns in the preseason, with Cleveland winning 14 of the previous 24. The teams last met in 2012 at Lambeau Field, with the Browns winning 35-10. The Packers have played just one opponent more than 25 times in their preseason history: the Giants 30 times.

Green Bay leads in regular-season matchups 11-7 over Cleveland. They last met in Week 7 of the 2013 season at Lambeau and the Pack won 31-13. Rodgers threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Weeden was the Browns' QB that day and he was expectedly awful, going 17-for-42 for 149 yards, one TD and one pick.

NFL Free Picks: Packers and 'Under' whatever the total is. The books are waiting on whether Rodgers will play, but it will be somewhere between 35-37. 
Best Line Offered: at BetCris

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