NFL Betting: Cleveland Browns 2018 Season Recap
The Cleveland Browns won a football game. Then they won another game. Then they fired their head coach. Then they won again; and again; and again; and again; and again. Yes, the Cleveland bleepin’ Browns—who went 0-16 in 2017 and 1-15 one season prior to that—won seven football games in 2018. No, their 7-8-1 record was not enough to get into the playoffs but it was a smashing success by this franchise’s recent standards. Here, though, the real question: did they make anyone any money? Unsurprisingly given their surprising success, the answer to that question is yes. Let’s take a look at the Cleveland Browns Betting Recap for the 2018 NFL season.
Cleveland started the season with Tyrod Taylor as its quarterback and Hue Jackson as its head coach. The change under center came in Week 3, when Taylor went down with a concussion during first-half action against the Jets on a Thursday night. Enter No. 1 overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. The former Oklahoma signal-caller promptly led the Browns to a 21-17 win over New York and just like that his career was off to the races. Following three unspectacular starts, Mayfield delivered two straight performances against Pittsburgh and Kansas City with more touchdown passes than interceptions (a combined four TDs and one INT in those two outings). Jackson got the boot on the heels of his team’s loss to the Steelers, which dropped it to 2-5-1. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams took over for Jackson and Mayfield did not miss a beat–throwing nine scoring strikes while getting picked off only once in the next three games, a stretch that included victories over Atlanta and Cincinnati. By the time the 2019 campaign came to end, Mayfield had won six games as a starter (not including the win over the Jets).
Browns Against the Spread
Only one team was more profitable against the spread than Cleveland, as the upstart Bears compiled a 12-4 ATS mark on the way to the NFC North crown. The Browns tied for second with New Orleans in this department, going 10-6 ATS. Obviously underdogs in the early stages given their futility in 2018, the Browns were 3-0 ATS through three weeks despite being 1-1-1 straight up. They went on to cover spreads in losses on two other occasions, against the Buccaneers in Week 7 and in the regular-season finale against Baltimore.
The Browns did not do as much for bettors when it came to over/unders. They were basically even at 7-8-1 O/U, a mark that is hardly a surprise considering the team was basically in the middle of the pack–albeit slightly toward the bottom of the NFL–in both points scored (20th) and points allowed (21st). Cleveland’s defense improved dramatically late in the year, so even though Mayfield also found his footing at the same time the under was generally the play throughout November and December. The under went 4-1-1 during a six-game stretch until the over hit in the finale (a 26-24 setback against the Ravens that kept Pittsburgh out of the playoffs).
Won’t be sneaking up in 2019
The Cleveland Browns are +3000 to win Super Bowl LIV. That makes them a long-shot by some standards, but not by theirs. Heck, by the Browns’ standards over much of the past three decades we might as well start planning the parade! They have better odds than 49ers, Giants, Panthers, Titans, Bengals, Jaguars, Jets, Buccaneers, Broncos, Redskins, Lions, Dolphins, Bills, Cardinals, and Raiders.
Mayfield should only improve in year two, in part because he now has an offensive-minded head coach in Freddie Kitchens. Moreover, Cleveland’s running back stable now features Nick Chubb (who was also a rookie in 2018) and recently acquired Kareem Hunt. Of course, Hunt may be suspended for most if not all of the upcoming campaign; but Chubb appears to be capable of shouldering the load even if that turns out to be the case. The Browns finally became a team on the rise in 2019; does that mean next season is playoffs or bust?