NFL Predictions Week 8: Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers

Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 10/30/11, 4:15 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  San Francisco -8.5
Current Betting Line:  San Francisco -8.5
Opening Total:  39.5
Current Total:  38
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

49ers vs. Cardinals NFL Preview
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is enjoying a solid year with Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines

Cleveland walked away with a 6-3 win last week over the Seattle Seahawks as three-point home favorites, but actually one the statistical battle by a sizable 161 yards.  The Browns will be suiting up as underdogs for just the second time this year, dropping a 24-17 decision to the Oakland Raiders two weeks ago as 6.5-point road underdogs.  It seems that the team got back to running the football, as Montario Hardesty carried the ball 33 times for 95 yards, moving into the starting role since Peyton Hillis has been out with a hamstring injury.  Cleveland is 1-4 ATS on the year and 9-8 ATS away from home the past two-plus seasons.

The Browns have placed a priority of keeping Colt McCoy upright, as he has been sacked 13 times, but hit 38.  Cleveland needs to keep him healthy due to the fact that the second-year quarterback is currently leading the league in attempting 42 passes a game.  He will be tested in a big way Sunday in facing a secondary that has broken up 49 passes, which ranks first in the NFL in that particular category.

San Francisco comes off its bye week with a 5-1 record and everything has gone great during the early part of the season under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh.  The 49ers were last seen handing the Detroit Lions their first loss of the season, as the team is focused on picking up its first division title since 2002.  Quarterback Alex Smith has really turned the corner under Harbaugh, completing 100-of-158 attempts fro 1,090 yards and eight touchdowns with just two interceptions.  San Francisco is 6-3 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points, while the ‘over’ is 5-4 in that particular situation.

The 49ers defense is one of the best in the league, ranking second in allowing just 16.2 points per game, while entering 11th in allowing 335.7 yards per game.  “It’s a combination of the scheme and the talent of the players that play it,” commented Cleveland head coach Pat Shurmur about the defense his team will face this week.  San Francisco is also one of the more dangerous teams due to Ted Ginn Jr., returning both kickoffs and punts.  Over the last two games, the Browns have struggled with special teams coverage.

Bettors will likely back the Browns due to their 7-1 ATS mark as a road underdog of 3.5 to 10 points, while the 49ers are 1-5-1 ATS following a bye week.

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