A Cleveland Browns podcast

Smart money likes Browns’ Deshaun, Colts’ Minshew, sort of

With Deshaun Watson returning to the lineup, the Browns versus Colts game is seen as a possible moderately low scoring affair, rather than the preposterous slaughter we were told to expect last week versus San Francisco. You will call that last week there was an initial expectation that Deshaun Watson would play, and the Browns were -2 point underdogs with an over/under of about 40.5 points. As the week progressed, the Browns became -9.5 dogs (woof, woof) and the over/under drifted down to 36 points. Was Watson then worth 7.5 points? Did the weather have something to with it? More likely, bettors were just hysterical to bet on San Francisco after Dallas played poorly on Monday Night Football. That may have set the market.

Now let’s think about what’s different this week. Instead of San Francisco in bad weather, the Browns play Indianapolis in a dome. At the beginning of the week, the community was expecting P. J. Walker, with Deshaun Watson emerging as the expected candidate as the week went on. The point spread has responded, but only by 2.5 points or so, as the Browns have ranged from about -1 to -3.5 point favorites, with the over/under ranging from 39.5 to about 41 points. That level of fluctuation is sane. Perhaps the community listened to the Cleveland Browniacs podcast, in which the Village Elliot ridiculed the Browns/49ers point spread, and claimed that if Watson were to go in for Walker, the point spread would only change by about two or three points, rather than the 7.5 change over the course of the week. That prediction appears to have been borne out this week. Watson has a very high ceiling, but at this point has not really re-established himself among the NFL’s “Pantheon of Greats.”

If Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, and Brandon Aiyuk were shut down by the Browns defense, do you really think Gardner Minshew, Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman, Jr. represent an upgrade? Last week, Jacksonville sold out against the run holding Jonathan Taylor to 19 yards on 8 carries (2.38 yds/carry), while Minshew aired it 55 times with 33 completions and 33 times. Unfortunately, there were three INTs which cost his team dearly. Versus the Browns, the Colts will probably struggle to score points, but the Browns lack firepower on offense also. The best way to score points against the Browns is to take advantage of giveaways from the Browns offense. No team has really defeated the Browns defense so far this season, and guessing here is that the Colts will not solve the Browns defense, either. Nevertheless, the oddsmakers are projecting a final score along the lines of 22.5 to 19, suggesting they believe that Minshew will be much more effective than the 49ers. If the Browns lose, it will probably because the Browns offense blows the game rather than the Colts actually winning the game by taking it to the Browns defense.

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Podcast Transcript

The Browns defense is playing at a historically high level through five games.


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