Join Sportsbook review's NFL Handicapper Matthew Jordan as he analyzes the impact on NFL Odds that Johnny Football's absence will have on Cleveland Browns starting lineup.
Ohio has been the center of the QB world the past 24 hours. Tuesday, it was Ohio State's Braxton Miller ruled out for the season. Wednesday, Brian Hoyer was announced as the starter for the Browns. What does this mean for Johnny Manziel's NFL odds?
Hoyer The Smart Choice
The Browns said all along they didn't want Manziel to be the starter right out of the gate, so this really shouldn't surprise anyone. Sure, Manziel has helped the two Browns games draw record preseason ratings on the NFL Network and ESPN, but his game hasn't come close to living up to his media hype. Hoyer hasn't played all that well, either, but at least the veteran journeyman is familiar with the speed of NFL defenses in a regular-season game.
Cleveland's offense as a whole has looked pretty miserable in starting 0-2 in the preseason. In the opening 13-12 loss at Detroit, Hoyer was 6-for-14 for 92 yards with no touchdowns or sacks. Manziel was 7-for-11 for 62 yards with no turnovers and ran for 27 yards. He played with the second-teamers. Since Johnny Football looked better than Hoyer, if not by a lot, that somewhat opened the door for the starting gig.
In Monday night's 24-23 loss at Washington, neither Hoyer nor Manziel looked ready for the season as they rotated series for a while. Hoyer started and was just 2-for-6 passing for 16 yards while being sacked on the first play of the game (not his fault). Manziel was 7-for-16 for 65 yards and did throw an 8-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to Dion Lewis. Manziel didn't run at all and looked a little tentative, getting sacked three times.
Something else happened during Monday's game that perhaps made Coach Mike Pettine's job easier in picking a starter. Manziel flipped off the Washington bench, which naturally was caught on television. Manziel rather joked about it afterward. Both showed his immaturity. Pettine admitted that it played a role in his decision, along with whatever else Manziel has done since this spring.
The Browns were 3-0 in Hoyer's three starts last season before he tore his ACL. I guarantee you that the opening schedule also played a big role in Pettine's decision. Cleveland opens at Pittsburgh, which has one of the most confusing zone-blitz defensive schemes in the NFL under long-time coordinator Dick LeBeau. Then the Browns host New Orleans, the No. 2 passing defense in the league last year, and host Baltimore, the No. 12 passing defense in 2013. Would you want a rookie going against those three defenses?
So here are the Bovada props on Manziel following this decision. He has jumped into the favored role on Offensive Rookie of the Year odds at 5/1. There's also a new prop that's very interesting: Will Manziel start Week 5 vs. Tennessee, with no at -175 and yes at +125. Finally, the site has a yes-only prop on Manziel winning OROY and Cleveland making the playoffs at +2000. I also want to include a total points scored this season prop for the Browns from BetOnline: under 285.5 (+175), 286-333.5 (+160) and over 335.5 (+175).
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It's unlikely that Manziel wins Rookie of the Year now as guys such as Buffalo's Sammy Watkins (6/1), New Orleans' Brandin Cooks (6/1) and Tennessee's Bishop Sankey (9/1) will have a head start of at least a few games unless Hoyer gets hurt. Lean Sankey there. The Week 5 prop I find intriguing because after those three tough games listed above, the Browns are off Week 4. I could see Johnny Football starting that Week 5 game in Nashville as Pettine will want to perhaps get him some time under center before starting him at home in Week 6, when expectations and fan mania will be off the charts. Go yes on that. I had said in a previous story that Manziel would start "over" 8.5 games in 2014, and I still believe that.
As for Cleveland's points, this looks like a bad offense. There still has been no word on the appeal of top receiver Josh Gordon and his season-long suspension, but it's not expected to be overturned. I can't imagine the Browns average more than 20 points per game. However, only two clubs totaled less than 285.5 last year: Houston (276) and Jacksonville (247). So take the 286-333.5 prop at +160 on NFL odds.