The Rams and Browns hook up from First Energy Stadium in Week 1 of the NFL preseason, and the NFL odds are favoring the Browns here at -3, with a total of 34 points.
After losing a majority of their total offense to free agency, the Rams have a lot to figure out for this season, and I think it will probably start here. Jeff Fisher needs to start assimilating his young offense with one another. Although I doubt he plays the starters more than a few series, I could also see some of the impact-rookies like Tavon Austin getting a little bit of an extended run in this game.
However, Fisher’s quarterback rotation in this first game is what we need to keep an eye on. Sam Bradford played just two series in last year’s preseason Week 1, and the offensive starters played less than that. I could see Fisher mailing this one in after he observes some of his young offensive weapons as well. In his career, Fisher is 8-7 SU in Week 1 of the preseason, but only 0-1 SU as the coach of the Rams. Brian Schottenheimer and coach Fisher may just want to take this first game easy and observe some of the younger guys without guaranteed roster spots. That will play right into the hands of the Browns, who under a new head coach will be looking for a big win.
For more NFL offseason coverage, check out our Rams Season Win Total Odds report!
It’s hard enough to be a Browns fan as it is, but with the legal troubles of the owner, and another new head coach, this season doesn’t have much room for optimism. That is why I think Rob Chudzinski is going to come in and put on a show for the home fans, or at least try. I doubt the Rams take this game very seriously, which is why this could be a great opportunity to give Cleveland just a little bit to cheer about.
While I doubt Brandon Weeden plays much more than a quarter, if that, I do think Norv Turner and Chudzinski are going to draw up a plan to win. They have a lot of evaluating to do on offense especially, and even though the first stringers won’t play long, I see the Browns’ as the deeper team anyways.
Since Chudzinski has no preseason record, we have to look at Turner instead, who is now calling plays. In his career with San Diego, Turner was 18-14 SU in the preseason, but only 4-4 SU in Week 1 of the preseason. However, even though both of these guys don’t have great expectations, I think they will want to come out and give the Cleveland fans a show. Neither of them have a lot of job security, even though it’s their first year on the job.
Don't forget to also check out our Browns Season Win Total Odds article!
The Sharp Pick
The preseason is just as much art as it is science, and this game is a great example. Stats and analytics don’t help much in Week 1 of the preseason where one of the coaches is new. However, I do think the Browns are the right sports pick here. Weeden will likely get some playing time, while right behind him is Jason Campbell, who will want to show that he could start if something happened to Weeden, or if the first stringer fell off. Plus, behind Campbell is veteran Brian Hoyer.
Coming after Bradford is Kellen Clemens and not much to throw to. For my NFL picks, I see the Browns coming away with a close, but solid cover in this game.
NFL Pick: Bet the Browns minus the points, -3 (or better if you can find it!)
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