It's time for the Redskins and Browns to open up their preseasons. There are six games on the schedule for Thursday night, and we're here to analyze the NFL odds for this battle in Cleveland.
With preseason football comes tiny spreads week in and week out, and that's what we find here for Cleveland's preseason opener against Washington. Current NFL odds show the Browns favored by anywhere from one to two and a half points.
Neither of these two offenses are all that great, as we know, and preseason matchups are typically lighter scoring-wise too, so it's no surprise to see a total of 37 points on the board.
Believe it or not, the Browns were actually looking like a legitimate threat for at least the first half of last season, but they crashed and burned, losing each of their last five games of 2015. They finished 7-9 and therefore didn't make the playoffs once again.
The saga surrounding first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel didn't help matters. Manziel was a total bust as a rookie and looks like he's still a ways off from becoming the starter, which leaves the starting QB spot in the hands of Josh McCown. Though the offensive line for the coming season is strong, this offense doesn't appear to have a ton of outstanding talent; Dwayne Bowe is the leading receiver in Cleveland now, with Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson and Terrance West all expected to compete for touches.
Defensively, the Browns will be tested after they struggled in 2014, especially against the run. They ranked 32nd against rushing attacks, which doesn't bode well in a division that features the likes of Le'Veon Bell, Justin Forsett, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. All in all, we're not too excited about Cleveland's chances of competing this season, so we'll be cautiously optimistic with our NFL picks.
In short, last season was a total disaster for the Redskins. They won just four games in all, with those two of those victories coming over weak opponents in Tennessee and Jacksonville. Needless to say, it was a rough 2014 for Robert Griffin III and company, but it appears as if things could be different this coming season.
Jay Gruden didn't exactly make the best first impression in his first season in charge of Washington. But, the Redskins aren't really starved for quality players, and we've seen what RGIII is capable of when fully healthy. If he's able to avoid injuries and stay on the field, Washington will be able to put points on the board, with DeSean Jackson, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed all expected to be major pieces of the puzzle too.
Just like their upcoming opponents in Cleveland, the Redskins have been disappointing their fans in recent seasons. Building up some good vibes in preseason could be important for team morale ahead of the start of the regular season, but it remains to be seen how much playing time the expected starters will get in the just the first preseason matchup. We'll be seeing a lot of healthy inactives on both sides here, making it tricky to pinpoint the best value.
Since it's preseason football, we're not going to go heavy with any sports picks. That being said, we feel Washington will be good value for getting the win in its opener.
The mood around the capital seems to be superior than in Cleveland at this point, as the Redskins have a lot of talent and look like they'll be more competitive with a new coaching structure in place.
So, our plan to attack the NFL odds involves us backing Washington as underdogs. Good luck!
NFL Pick: Washington Redskins +2.5 at Betonline