Two angles NFL bettors must consider in Browns vs. Cardinals

Asia's Tech News Daily

Two of VSIN’s NFL experts offer their predictions for a total and a side in Sunday’s showdown in Cleveland between the Browns and Cardinals. Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury will miss the game after testing positive for COVID, and RB Nick Chubb (calf) is out for Cleveland.

Burke: The Browns appear to be chameleons this season, attempting to adapt to whatever situation they are in. Against the Chiefs and Chargers, Cleveland was very aggressive about going for it on fourth down and passing up field goals. In games against Houston, Chicago and Minnesota, the Browns were a little more passive, looking for ball control to salt away victories.

The Browns have gone for it on fourth down 11 times this season, with seven of them against K.C. and Los Angeles. I would expect an aggressive mindset this week against a Cardinals team that can definitely put up points. Cleveland is also dealing with some injuries in the secondary, as Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams and Troy Hill all left hurt at some point against the Chargers and Greg Newsome II is still dealing with a calf injury. Jadeveon Clowney didn’t play, while Myles Garrett is also dealing with a nagging injury. On the other side, the Cardinals will be without Chandler Jones on their defense.

The Browns are at the forefront of analytics, so they’ve been aggressive in games in which punts and field goals don’t really make sense. Against Kyler Murray, the co-favorite for NFL MVP, that might be the case. The Cardinals have racked up 6.3 yards per play and just got held under 31 points and 400 yards for the first time this season in a 17-10 victory over the 49ers. Murray got treatment on his right arm during the game, but we haven’t heard much since.

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Kyler Murray

AP

The Cardinals have allowed 5.4 yards per carry this season, and turnovers have helped this defense look better than it actually is. As long as Cleveland takes care of the football, the Browns should get their points. Arizona should put some points on the board as well, as Murray has led a top-five red zone offense and has a lot of speed on the outside.

I do have a lean to the Browns here that depends on the statuses of the injured players, though I do think this is the right place to take Cleveland against an Arizona team that has only put together a couple of really impressive performances (Titans, Rams). I also feel as if the Over is a strong play.

Burke’s pick: Over 49.

Hill: A forecast of winds over 20 mph will help the home Browns who are not only more accustomed to those suboptimal conditions, but also feature a heavy ground attack. That’s as opposed to the visitors, who rely on the passing game. The Cardinals rank near the bottom of the league defending the run, and are not as good as their 5-0 record. They trailed the Jaguars 19-10 in the second half a few weeks back, needed a short missed field goal from the Vikings on the final play and were outgained last week by the 49ers.

The Browns, at 3-2, need the game more, as they already trail the Ravens in the AFC North. Murray is among the early season MVP favorites, but was seen wincing and rubbing his shoulder on the sideline against the 49ers, and was not nearly as effective last week after an early touchdown pass. If he is reluctant to run because of pain in that sore shoulder, then a big element of his game would be neutralized.

Hill’s pick: Browns -3.5.

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