Baker Mayfield and the highly-hyped Cleveland Browns kick off what may be the most anticipated season in franchise history at home against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The line — courtesy of Odds Shark — currently has the Browns listed as a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 45.
There’s plenty to unpack in this one, and here are some tips and advice on which side to back.
Browns Are Expected to be High-Powered, But Odell Beckham is Hobbled
Odell Beckham Jr. arrived in Cleveland this offseason via a blockbuster trade, supercharging the Browns offense that is led by Mayfield, who is coming off a stellar rookie year.
In just 13 starts, Mayfield passed for a rookie record 27 touchdowns last season. The former Oklahoma Heisman winner also collected 3,725 passing yards and helped the Browns finish 7-8-1, winning five of their final seven games.
Before being traded to the Browns in March, Beckham hauled in 390 passes for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns in 59 games with the New York Giants. He made the Pro Bowl three-times and has said that he wants to catch Jerry Rice on the all-time receiving yards list.
While Beckham’s status has never really been in question for Week 1, there were some concerns after he brought up on Thursday that his “minor” hip injury has kept him from going full speed.
Beckham compared what he’s going through to a car just being a little bit off.
“It’s like an extremely fast car with a little alignment or something off, and it’s right in the center of what you need,” Beckham told reporters Thursday after practice. “Now the car can still go, but it’s dangerous.”
Titans Offensive Line Could be a Major Issue
Hopefully Marcus Mariota packed his running shoes.
The Titans will be missing starting left tackle and three-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan as he serves a four-game suspension after testing positive for the banned substance Ostarine. That leaves journeyman Dennis Kelly to stop Myles Garrett — the Browns towering defensive end that has his sights set on winning the defensive player of the year. Kelly has 27 starts over his six-year career.
The former No. 1 overall pick is coming off a Pro Bowl season where he notched 44 total tackles, including 35 solo stops, playing in all 16 games. He also recorded 13.5 sacks, coming up just a half-sack short of the tying Reggie Camp’s 35-year-old single-season franchise record.
The Browns defensive front — which also features Sheldon Richardson, 2018 Pro Bowl pick Olivier Vernon and Larry Ogunjobi — is expected to be among the best in the league. Without Lewan, the Titans could be in for a long day.
Titans vs. Browns: Pick & Prediction
Here’s an ominous trend: Cleveland is 0-13-1 SU and 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games in Week 1 (h/t Odds Shark).
But if there’s one thing bettors should realize it’s that there are no prevailing trends from the past that can help with this Cleveland Browns team.
Sure, for most it’s hard to not think about the Browns without thinking of the 0-16 campaign of 2017 and the 1-15 season before that. But this group — which features Mayfield, OBJ, Pro Bowl WR Jarvis Landry, running back Nick Chubb, Garrett and Vernon — have their sights set on history.
If the Browns can slow down the heavy load of Derrick Henry — who collected 1,059 yards and 12 TDs a year ago — and force Mariota to make plays, Cleveland should be able to take this one handily.
Pick: Cleveland -5.5
Total: Under 45
Bonus pick: Baker Mayfield over 1.5 passing TDs (-142)