Carolina at Cleveland
Time: NOON CT, FOX
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Cleveland Browns may be in last place in the AFC North but never has so much optimism flowed through a 4-7-1 team. Cleveland now hosts Carolina at NOON CT on FOX in a game with EVEN odds according to NFL oddsmakers at 5dimes. The over/under is set at 47 points for the affair.
The Cleveland Browns have won two of its past three, with a 13-29 loss to the Houston Texans last week snapping a two-game win streak that had seen the Browns defeat both the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals. With three games left, the Browns have a chance to close the season with a .500 record should it manage to win all three, but taking the one week at a time approach yields Carolina this week in a tough game that NFL oddsmakers have set an EVEN spread for.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been large in the Browns turnaround. The rookie has thrown for 2,639 yards on 63.3 percent passing with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His passer rating is 91.1. None of those numbers are sensational, but for a rookie in a forlorn franchise, it is better than just good. Mayfield has also rushed 25 times for another 107 yards, and his top receiver Jarvis Landry is having a sensational season. Landry has caught 66 passes for 733 yards and two touchdowns, while Antonio Callaway and David Njoku have both added 400-plus yards and three touchdowns apiece. Nick Chubb has also been great at running back, with 694 yards and a 5.3 yard-per-carry average.
For the first time in several seasons, the Browns have feared performers at its skill positions, and there is even some depth in the backfield rotation where Duke Johnson Jr is a strong No. 2 rusher. Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor also leads the team in yards-per-carry with 7.8 on his 16 attempts. The Browns felt so confident in Chubb and Johnson that it parted ways with Carlos Hyde, who has gone on to mostly struggle for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. Making the right moves managerially and amassing talent? It is not the Browns we have known, but no franchise can stay down forever.
The Carolina Panthers are 6-6 this season but just 1-5 on the road where it encounters Cleveland this week. The Panthers have lost four-straight games, with losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, and most recently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carolina trails New Orleans by an irretrievable four games in the NFC South.
Despite its struggles this season, Cam Newton has been very good once again. The dynamics dual-threat quarterback has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards on 69.5 percent passing with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His passer rating is 99.8. Newton has completed nearly 1,300 passing yards just between his top two targets Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore. McCaffrey has six of the team’s 24 passing TDs. He also leads the rush game with 863 yards on 163 carries with five rushes for 20-yards or more and five touchdowns.
Between Newton’s 450 yards and McCaffrey’s production, one has uncovered basically all of Carolina’s offensive attack, and Moore is the No. 3 rusher. That trio is the key to its offensive success, but it will struggle on the road where it has won just once this season.