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NFL Betting: Lions-Browns Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 10/10/2013 9:39:44 AM

The Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns are playing a meaningful game in week six of the NFL season. This is not a misprint. It’s reality. Both teams bring winning records into this game and need this win to shore up their playoff prospects. Which team will move up the ladder and cement its place as a playoff contender? There’s a lot more intrigue attached to this game than a lot of pro football gurus ever imagined when the season began.

Detroit Lions @ Cleveland Browns

Odds: Detroit -2.5

Total: 45

The Cleveland Browns are 3-2, and what’s more is that they’re 3-0 since trading running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. The many analysts who felt that the Browns were tanking on their 2013 season have been forced to admit that the move was far more shrewd than it was first thought to be. It seems that Richardson really was not a good fit within the Browns’ offense, and that his lack of happiness cut into the team’s production and morale. Cleveland is now functioning more smoothly in general, and especially on the offensive side of the ball. What’s noteworthy about the Browns’ rise is that it has occurred under a quarterback, Brian Hoyer, who had previously been a career backup, and a much-criticized quarterback, Brandon Weeden, who was solid in a win over Buffalo this past Thursday. Cleveland’s pieces – felt by many to be deficient – have turned out to be adequate more often than not. The win-loss record doesn’t lie: Cleveland has more wins than losses as the midpoint of October approaches.

This is where things get tricky for the Browns, though: Hoyer was knocked out for the season in the win over Buffalo, meaning that Weeden must handle the pressure of being a starter once again. Weeden thrived when coming off the bench – he didn’t have to face as much scrutiny in that situation. Now, though, he must return to that situation and all the complications it invites. Detroit’s defense contained Chicago Bear quarterback Jay Cutler on Sept. 29, and after playing Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in week five, facing Weeden should be much easier by comparison. Detroit should be able to make the various adjustments and alignments that will enable the Lions to shut down Weeden at every turn. The Lions should not give up many big passing plays. They should be able to put the Browns in a lot of third-and-long situations and gain the upper hand on a consistent basis.

As for the other matchup in this game, Detroit’s offense has been able to score on a fairly consistent basis. The Lions have managed to showcase their talents instead of throwing them away, as they did last season. As long as the Lions don’t turn the ball over more than once, they should be able to stay one or two steps ahead of Cleveland’s defense on a regular basis. As long as the Lions aren’t trailing by more than one score, they should feel that they’ll be able to do whatever it takes to ultimately win this game.

Prediction

It’s true that Weeden played well against Buffalo, but that was not as a starting quarterback. It’s hard to expect Weeden to be at his best in this game. The Lions make more sense as a betting choice.

Pick: Lions -2.5

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