NFL Sunday Picks: Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald leads the Cardinals in receiving yardage once again.

Cleveland at Arizona

Time: 3:05 PM CST, CBS

Spread: CLE -2.5

Total: 49

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Cleveland Browns are 6-7 and in third place in what has proven to be yet another disappointing season for the franchise. The Browns travel to face the Arizona Cardinals at 3 PM (CST) on CBS, and Cleveland finds itself a 2.5-point favorite on the road. The over/under is set at 49 points according to NFL oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.

CLE

The Browns have really actually quite turned things around after a disastrous start to the 2019 season that saw the team lose five of its first seven games. Since that point, Cleveland has gone on to win four of its last five. Cleveland ranks in the top-10 of rush offenses with its 124.5 yards per game, but its pass attack has lingered in the bottom-third and it is a bottom-third offensive team at just 21 points per game. The defense has been fairly strong in holding opponents to just 22.4, but the Browns still sport a sub.-.500 record at this juncture with a -1.4 point differential.

Cleveland has been pleased with Baker Mayfield’s progress, but this really was supposed to be a season he shined much brighter in. Mayfield has thrown just 59.2 percent for completion en route to 3,109 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he has thrown 16 interceptions and suffered 33 sacks (2.67 per game). His passer rating is a very weak 77.6. Mayfield’s top-two targets are studs, too. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. were supposed to make Mayfield’s job an easy one, but that has not really transpired despite some 1800+ yards between those top-two receivers.

Nick Chubb has had a great season to somewhat salvage the offense as both the lead running back and the No. 3 receiving option. Chubb has 1,281 yards on 5.1 yards-per-carry, including an 88-yard rush and seven of the team’s 14 rushing touchdowns. Mayfield has been decent on his mere 20 attempts, generating 4.8 yards per, and he has rushed for three touchdowns, No. 2 on the team. Kareem Hunt has had limited attempts (34) and just 153 yards and two touchdowns on the season. Hunt has caught 22 passes for 158 yards and a TD, though, as well.

Overall, this Browns team has plenty of talent at the skill positions, but it mostly waiting for Mayfield to mature into the talent that he promised to be when the Browns selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Oklahoma product has a very high ceiling, but it has fittingly been a season more about gaining experience and learning for him. In the win over Cincinnati last week, he completed just 11 of 24 (45 percent) with two interceptions and no touchdowns.

The week prior in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers he threw another interception and was sacked five times that game.

It has been one obstacle after the next, but fans and analysts were perhaps expecting far too much, and perhaps basing it on the quicker adjustments of some other (quite rare) talents such as Patrick Mahomes. Be that as it may, the Browns can still return to .500 this week if it prevails as it is favored to.

ARI

The Arizona Cardinals are 3-9-1 and just 1-5-1 at home where it hosts the Browns today. Not much has gone well for the Cardinals this season. The rush offense is middle-of-the-pack and the pass offense is among the 10-worst. The team averages just 20.9 points per game (No. 22) while giving up 28.8, equating to a -7.9 point differential.

Arizona also, like its opponent today, has a young QB in Kyler Murray, though he has fared somewhat better than Mayfield overall. Murray has a 64.1 percent completion ratio with 3,060 yards on the year and 16 touchdowns to his nine interceptions. But he has had a real issue with sacks, having incurred 46 for a loss of 305 yards. Murray is also the team’s top rush threat though, with his 448 yards and team-best 5.8 yards-per-carry (min. 10 attempts).

David Johnson has struggled as the No. 1 backfield option with just 3.8 yards-per-carry and only two touchdowns. Chase Edmonds is the No. 3 backfield performer with 304 yards and a respectable 5.2 yards-per-carry. He is also tied with Murray for the team-lead in touchdowns at four. Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk have functioned as the 1A and 1B options at wide receiver. Fitzgerald has 669 yards and Kirk has amassed 616, and both have three touchdowns to their credit. The Cardinals have scored 16 rushing touchdowns, with Johnson leading the team in TD receptions (4).

Kicker Zane Gonzalez has made 27 of 30, including 21 of 22 from within the 400-yard line. He has missed two past the 40, but he has made 2 of 2 from beyond midfield with the longest being a 54-yard attempt.

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