After Week 1, there was no reason to think anything had changed with the Cleveland Browns.
The Baltimore Ravens rocked them, 38-6. Baker Mayfield struggled. It seemed like the Browns had a new coach yet were still the same bad team.
By Week 4, the Browns are looking a lot better.
Cleveland has two straight wins, scoring more than 30 points in both games. It’s the first time the Browns have scored 30 or more points in back-to-back weeks since 2010.
Here’s the bad news: The Browns did that against the Washington Football Team and Cincinnati Bengals, two of the worst teams in pro football. The Browns looked awful against the Ravens, one of the best teams in football, and much better against two bad teams. It’s hard to know what to make of Cleveland.
We’ll know more after Sunday. The Browns play the 1-2 Dallas Cowboys, who are 0-3 against the spread and lucky to not be 0-3 straight up too.
The Browns are 4.5-point underdogs, which means the oddsmakers aren’t buying them. Or perhaps they’re still buying the Cowboys.
Dallas’ defense looks awful, which has wasted Dak Prescott’s hot start. Perhaps the Browns’ offense, with the strong combination at running back of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, is finally living up to its potential. If so, points shouldn’t be a problem.
I’ll take the Browns and the 4.5 points. I don’t know what Dallas has done to deserve laying that number, even if we don’t think Cleveland is that good. The Cowboys’ defense will give up plenty of points, enough to keep the backdoor cover open. At very least.
Here are the rest of the picks for Week 4 in the NFL, with all lines from BetMGM:
Broncos (-1.5) over Jets
I wish I could take the over on snarky Twitter comments during this awful matchup on Thursday night. It’s stunning that a team starting Brett Rypien would be favored on the road against anyone, but the Jets might be that bad.
Bears (+2.5) over Colts
I like Indianapolis. The Bears are much better off with Nick Foles at quarterback and this line doesn’t reflect that. I anticipate seeing a better Chicago team than the one that is very lucky to be 3-0.
Lions (+4) over Saints
Kenny Golladay won’t get listed as one of the NFL’s most valuable non-quarterbacks, but he makes a huge difference to the Lions. On the other side, the Saints don’t look right. Maybe when Michael Thomas returns they’ll look like the Saints again, but I’m starting to doubt how good they can be.
Cardinals (-3.5) over Panthers
This line seems like it has some recency bias baked in. A week ago, the Cardinals were the NFL’s hot team and the Panthers were in serious trouble without Christian McCaffrey. A win by the Panthers and a last-second loss by the Cardinals didn’t completely change who these teams are. The Panthers will miss McCaffrey, and the Cardinals will bounce back.
Bengals (-3) over Jaguars
People got too excited about Jacksonville after two weeks. Before last Thursday’s game, NFL Network’s pregame crew said the Jaguars were already playoff contenders. Uh, no. I wasn’t buying then and I’m not buying now.
Dolphins (+6.5) over Seahawks
I don’t like picking against Russell Wilson. I also know the Seahawks will give up points in bunches, especially if safety Jamal Adams (groin) is out.
Chargers (+7) over Buccaneers
I’m not totally sold on the Bucs yet, especially without Chris Godwin. Yet, this is the one pick I know I might regret.
Ravens (-13.5) over Washington
As I explained in NFL Power Rankings, I don’t think that much less of the Ravens after Monday night. Kansas City is just better and the Chiefs showed that. Also, the Ravens are going to be angry.
Giants (+12.5) over Rams
I generally lean to any double-digit underdog in the NFL. But I can’t say I feel very good about picking the Giants, who look absolutely lost right now.
Bills (-3) over Raiders
I get it, the Bills blew a big lead and got lucky on a bad pass interference call. Yet, we also have to acknowledge that they led 28-3 against a good Rams team. That happened too. I’ve been high on the Bills since the start of the offseason and I’m not stopping now.
49ers (-7) over Eagles
Assuming San Francisco gets healthier, how can you take the Eagles? They look awful. I have a hard time believing Carson Wentz can’t play, but he has been bad this season. I need to see some life from the Eagles before I back them again.
Falcons (+7) over Packers
It might be backward thinking, but the Falcons completely outplayed the Bears and Cowboys for three-plus quarters. We know they can put up points on anyone. Atlanta can at least keep it close, even if they blow it in the final minutes.
POSTPONED/OFF THE BOARD
Chiefs-Patriots, Steelers-Titans, Vikings-Texans
This is what we worried about all offseason. The Titans had some positive COVID-19 tests and their game against the Steelers will be played later in the year. Then on Saturday, news broke that Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive, and the league was discussing options for this week's game against the Chiefs. Meanwhile the Titans opponent last week, the Vikings, had to be cautious and the line for their game hasn't been posted yet.
Last week: 8-8
Season to date: 25-21-2
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