Week 3 NFL Preview - Rams vs. Browns

Sunday Night Preview: Rams at Browns

By Kyle Johansen

 

In prime time this Sunday night we will see the Cleveland Browns play host to the Super Bowl losing Los Angeles Rams. Unless something drastic changes before kickoff, the Browns will go into this game as home underdogs, and it may be by more than a few points.

Even in decisive victory on Monday night, the Cleveland Browns still managed to not look so hot. Other than a quick slant that Odell Beckham took to the house, there wasn’t much to get excited about on offense for the Browns. Baker Mayfield looks far from a top-10 quarterback so far this season, and it’s difficult to tell how well the Browns will play on any given Sunday.

The Los Angeles Rams, meanwhile, are also a difficult team to peg. Their week one 30-27 win at Carolina looked a lot less impressive after the Panthers lost at home on a short week to Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Similarly, the Rams week two win over the Saints was muddied by Drew Brees leaving the game on the Saints second drive. The Rams went on to win 27-9 but a 27-point offensive output isn’t all that impressive for this Rams team.

The one aspect of both teams that can be trusted on to an extent is good defense. The Rams are loaded on every level, and the Browns have one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers in Myles Garrett. Garrett put up two sacks in week one and followed it up with three sacks in week two. It’s hard to tell how good the Browns defense is overall, but they have talent, and they have Garrett.

Rams Offense vs Browns Defense  

The Rams offense has one huge advantage every time they take the field, and it’s mastermind head coach Sean McVay. No one other than McVay and Goff know the extent to which Goff actually runs the offense. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. McVay is like a giddy kid playing Madden the way he can deploy his three-some of receivers. Add that to star running back Todd Gurley looking to be healthy, and this offense should be just as lethal as it was in 2018.

Gurley’s health is a huge factor in the Rams offense, as much of their passing success comes off play action after Gurley pounds the rock. In two games so far, Gurley has 30 carries for 160 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Jared Goff hasn’t looked quite as impressive, but he’s done enough to get the Rams off to a 2-0 start. A completion percentage of 62.7% and 7.0 yards per attempt should be good enough to get the job done as long as Gurley is carrying the load on the ground.

The Rams have a top 10 offensive line, and they’re going to need it against Myles Garrett. With Brandon Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods on the receiving end, Goff should be able to find an open receiver before Garrett gets to him if his line plays up to their talent level.

Browns Offense vs Rams Defense  

As uninspiring as Jared Goff has been so far with 2 TD and 1 INT through two weeks, Baker Mayfield has been much worse. By the standard numbers that is. According to QBR, Baker has been the #21 QB in the NFL so far with a QBR of 40.4, while Goff is #27 with a QBR of 31.

Having Odell Beckham certainly helps, but he’ll most likely be shadowed during the game by Rams #1 corner Aqib Talib. Browns running back Nick Chubb also helps to take the pressure off Baker, but the Rams have an excellent run defense to combat Chubb. Last week, all world running back Alvin Kamara was limited to just 3.5 yards per carry on 13 carries against the Rams, who held him to under 50 yards on the ground. The Rams also held Kamara to just one reception for 15 yards.

The Spread

This line opened with the Rams as 1.5-point road favorites, and the market responded emphatically by pounding the Rams up to -3. As far as the ticket count and dollars wagered goes, 86% of the bets are on the Rams, and 88% of the money is on the Rams.

No one is expecting Cleveland to win this game, and you currently have to pay -120 to back Los Angeles. If you’re inclined to bet on Baker and the Browns, I’d wait for this line to get to 3.5 points. Currently, if you want to bet the Browns you can take them +3 points at even money.


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