NFL Betting Picks Week #12: Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia 

Sunday, November 23, 2014, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket 
Opening Line: Atlanta -3 (-119)
Current Line: Atlanta -3 (-115)
Opening Total: 46 1/2
Current Total: 47 1/2
Opening Money Line: Falcons -165 / Browns +140
Current Money Line: Falcons -170 / Browns +145

The Falcons and Browns face off Sunday in Atlanta in a key contest with playoff implications for both teams.
The Falcons and Browns face off Sunday in Atlanta in a key contest with playoff implications for both teams.

While every team in the AFC North is above .500, every team in the NFC South is below .500. Teams from those two divisions meet as the 4-6 Atlanta Falcons host the 6-4 Cleveland Browns Sunday. Cleveland is tied for third (or last too if you are a pessimist)  with the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North behind the 6-3-1 Cincinnati Bengals and 7-4 Pittsburgh Steelers. Atlanta is actually tied for the NFC South lead with the New Orleans Saints despite both teams being 2 games under.500.

Since 2002, Cleveland leads the series against Atlanta 2-1. The Falcons won the last game 20-10 in Cleveland in 2010. Cleveland is 5-1 all time in Atlanta.

Cleveland is coached by Mike Pettine. The surprising Browns have won 4 of their last 6 games. Cleveland has road losses at the Steelers 30-27 and Jacksonville Jaguars 24-6, along with  home losses to the Ravens 23-21 and Houston Texans 23-7 last week. The loss to Houston snapped a three game winning streak for Cleveland. The Browns have home wins over the New Orleans Saints 26-24, Steelers 31-10, Oakland Raiders 23-13 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22-17, along with road wins over the Tennessee Titans 29-28 and Cincinnati Bengals 24-3 . Cleveland is 5-3-2 ATS this season and the total is 4-6. The Browns were 4.5 point favorites against the Texans and the total was 42.

Atlanta is coached by Mike Smith. The Falcons started off the season 2-1 but then lost 5 straight games. Atlanta has won 2 straight games and all 4 wins have come in division games. The Falcons have home wins over the Saints 37-34 in overtime and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14, and road wins at the Buccaneers 27-17 and Carolina Panthers last week 19-17. Atlanta has road losses at the Cincinnati Bengals 24-10, Minnesota Vikings 41-28, New York Giants 30-20, Baltimore Ravens 29-7 and Detroit Lions 22-21 in London, plus a home loss to the Chicago Bears 27-13. The Falcons are 4-6 ATS and the total is 3-7 this season. Atlanta was a 3.5 point underdog at the Panthers and the total was 46.5.

Cleveland is outscoring teams 22-20 this season. The Browns are #7 in points allowed. Cleveland is averaging 356 yards per game on offense including 245 passing and 111 rushing yards. On defense, the Browns are allowing 372 yards per game including 231 passing and 142 rushing yards. Cleveland is #22 in total defense and #30 in rush defense.  The Browns are 46/146 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 60/161. Cleveland has forced 20 sacks and allowed 15 this season. The Browns are +8 in turnovers. Cleveland has one defensive touchdown this season.

Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer has completed 55.7% of his passes for 2,542 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has done just enough to hold off rookie Johnny Manziel for the starting job. Running back Ben Tate was released earlier this week. He had 106 carries for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns plus 9 catches. Terrance West has 112 carries for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 7 catches and a touchdown. Isaiah Crowell has 78 carries for 358 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 5 catches.

Receiver Andrew Hawkins has 45 catches for 601 yards and 2 touchdown. Taylor Gabriel has 29 catches for 527 yards with a touchdown. Miles Austin has 34 catches for 418 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Jordan Cameron has 13 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with a concussion. Travis Benjamin has 15 catches for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receiver Josh Gordon is eligible to return from a suspension this week but it is unclear how much he will play if at all. Seven defensive players are listed as questionable or out for the Browns.

Atlanta is being outscored 26-24 this season. Atlanta is #23 in points allowed and #12 in scoring. The Falcons are averaging 367 yards per game on offense including 271 passing yards and 96 rushing yards. Atlanta is #10 in total offense and #6 in pass defense. The Falcons are allowing 403 total yards per game on defense including 281 passing yards and 122 rushing yards. Atlanta is 24th or worse in all defensive categories including dead last in both total and pass defense. The Falcons are 55/134 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 69/143 on third and fourth down conversions. Atlanta has 13 sacks and has allowed 20. The Falcons are +3 in turnovers. Atlanta has 2 defensive special teams touchdowns and has allowed a defensive touchdown.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 65.4% of his passes for 2,793 yards with 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, plus 16 carries for 72 yards. He has been sacked 20 times. Running back Steven Jackson has 128 carries for 467 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 14 catches for 80 yards. Antone Smith has 23 carries for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. He injured his knee against Carolina and is out for the season. Jacquizz Rodgers has 26 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Julio Jones has 67 catches for 912 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roddy White has 47 catches for 566 yards and 5 touchdowns. Devin Hester has 22 catches for 302 yards with a touchdown, plus a punt return for a touchdown. Hester is questionable with a wrist injury. Harry Douglas has 19 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown. Five offensive linemen are questionable or out as are six defensive players.

Cleveland is 5-1-2 ATS after a straight up loss of 14 or more points, 16-5-1 against teams with losing home records, 3-1-1 after rushing for less than 90 yards and accumulating more than 350 total yards, 18-8-1 after passing for more than 250 yards, 2-7-1 against teams with losing records, 1-4-2 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, 1-4 in November, and 0-4 after a double digit home loss.

Atlanta is 2-0-2 ATS in week 12, 5-1 after accumulating less than 90 rushing yards, 4-1 at home, 3-7 after a straight up win, 2-5 against teams with winning road records and overall, 1-5 after allowing more than 350 yards, 0-4 after passing for more than 250 yards, and 0-4 on fieldturf.

Neither one of these teams have been consistent this season. Cleveland has been more so than Atlanta, but I don’t trust the Browns completely. Atlanta is tough at home but I think the Browns steal a win on the road.

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