Should you back the Browns as double-digit favorites against Dolphins?
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Dolphins at Browns Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds
- Odds: Browns -10.5
- Over/Under: 45
- Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: FOX
Odds as of Thursday evening.
If the Cleveland Browns close as double-digit favorites this Sunday, it would be only the second time over the past 25 seasons — the other instance came in 2007, when they won and covered against the 49ers. But is there any value on the Miami Dolphins in this spot.
Our experts analyze every angle of this matchup from a betting perspective, featuring staff picks and Sean Koerner’s projected odds.
Dolphins-Browns Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Dolphins
Every player of note on the Dolphins’ injury report as been practicing in a limited fashion or in full, suggesting they’re trending toward playing. Ryan Fitzpatrick (shoulder/arm) has been a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday, but so far there’s nothing suggesting he’ll be out this week.
The Browns defense could struggle to generate a pass rush since they’ll be missing Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi due to suspension, and Olivier Vernon (knee) still isn’t practicing. Those three players have combined for 109 quarterback pressures and 17 sacks this season.
Also of note, Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) has been limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, so he’s worth monitoring on Friday when final reports come out. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Browns Running Backs vs. Dolphins Linebackers
I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to write about how bad the Dolphins linebackers are almost every week. Almost regardless of opponent, they’re outmatched, and it just so happens that the Browns have maybe the league’s best duo of running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Dating back to last season, Chubb has averaged 107.5 yards and 0.7 touchdowns from scrimmage in his 20 games as the team’s lead back. He trails only Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette with 1,177 scrimmage yards. For a lead back who plays on a 4-6 team and isn’t used heavily in the passing game, that’s pretty good.
And Hunt is probably the best No. 2 back in the NFL. In his 30 career games, he’s averaged 105.4 yards and 0.87 touchdowns (including playoffs). Blessed with elite pass-catching skills, Hunt has especially contributed to the Browns as a receiver since making his season debut two weeks ago: The sample is small, but he’s averaged 8.5 targets and 6.5 receptions to go along with five carries per game.
With that kind of usage, Hunt is more than just an ordinary change-of-pace back.
Over the past two weeks, Chubb has had a 77% snap rate and Hunt a 55% rate. They’re both seeing regular action, and they’re even playing a portion of their snaps together in two-running back sets, which is a great development. With two talented backs on the field at once, it’s hard for defenders to key in on either one of them.
And I expect that Dolphins defenders will be especially challenged against Chubb and Hunt, especially linebackers Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen.
The Dolphins are No. 29 in rush defense and No. 32 in pass defense against running backs (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). Lots of players contribute to the vastness of this ineptitude, but Baker and Eguavoen are especially to blame, as evidenced by their Pro Football Focus grades.
- Baker: 657 snaps, 45.7 overall grade, 37.0 run defense, 58.5 coverage
- Eguavoen: 437 snaps, 42.2 overall grade, 40.5 run defense, 53.0 coverage
Against such defenders, Chubb and Hunt could combine for 200 yards and multiple touchdowns. — Matthew Freedman
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Browns -12.5
- Projected Total: 43.5
For the second straight game, I’m showing a couple points of value on Miami’s opponent while the public appears to be backing the Dolphins. I stand by my decision to avoid betting on either side of their matchups indefinitely as a Fitzpatrick-led team that’s tanking is way too volatile to be confident about any perceived edge.
The under, however, seems to be worth a look here.
The total has dropped from 45 to 44.5 at some books despite 89% of the money coming in on the over (see live public betting data here). I also have this being a full point lower, and the expected game flow should favor the under. If the Browns play with a sizable lead, it’s likely they lean on their running game and slow the pace down to help eat the clock and shorten the game. We saw this in their Week 11 win against the Steelers. In fact, when leading, the Browns’ pace of play drops from 18th to 29th (per Football Outsiders).
The Dolphins don’t necessarily play more up-tempo when losing, either. Their pace of play ranks 10th in the NFL, but slows down to 21st when trailing (a game script they are quite used to).
Give me the under here. — Sean Koerner
PRO System Match
The Browns have won two in a row, but the offense still isn’t clicking — they’ve been held to 21 or fewer points in three straights games.
Baker Mayfield and Co. are expected to beat the Dolphins as double-digit favorites, but the public isn’t confident they can score enough to cover: More than 60% of spread tickets are on the Miami. While this may seem like a good time to fade the Browns’ inconsistent offense, history suggests otherwise.
Teams that haven’t been able to put up a lot of points recently can be undervalued as teams to regress to the mean throughout the season. This is especially true against opponents that may not know their tendencies or personnel as well as their divisional rivals.
This creates an excellent first-half betting opportunity. Gamblers following this Pro System have gone 163-114-59 (59%) against the spread since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,511 following this strategy. — John Ewing
Expert PicksStuckey: Browns -6.5 1H/-10.5
I just don’t get the love for the Dolphins in the market — I was shocked the Bills weren’t favored by a touchdown or more last week and am equally as shocked the Browns aren’t laying 14 here.
Fitzpatrick is putting up some quality yardage number, especially considering what he has to work with. But factoring in midseason injuries and departures, this is still one of the worst NFL rosters we’ve seen in a long time.
Let’s start with the offense, which features a historically bad running game. The Dolphins are averaging 3.0 yards per carry, which ranks dead last. But just how bad is that historically? The last team to average sub-3.0 yards for a season was the 1994 Patriots. That team had Marion Butts in the backfield and averaged 2.8 yards per carry. Oddly enough, that was the last team to lose to the Browns in the playoffs.
And those Miami rushing numbers are cumulative, meaning they include Kenyan Drake (since traded) and Mark Walton (recently cut). The Dolphins now feature Kalen Ballage, who is averaging fewer than 2.0 yards a carry.
They just aren’t capable of taking advantage of a vulnerable Cleveland rush defense that’s allowing 4.8 yards per carry, which ranks 28th, and their personnel just isn’t capable of exploiting the Browns’ weakness at linebacker.
The strength of this Cleveland team lies in the secondary with now healthy corners Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward. Yes, the pass rush will suffer as a result of Garrett’s suspension, but the Browns can contain a Miami passing attack that’s still missing Preston Williams.
And on the other side of the ball, the Browns should have plenty of success on the ground and through the air against a bad Miami front seven and depleted secondary.
Mayfield should have received a much-needed confidence boost after two straight wins and the offense is even more dynamic with the addition of Hunt. The Dolphins struggle defending pretty much everywhere, but especially against backs.
(The Browns may also get tight end David Njoku back, which would help even more.)
Cleveland’s offensive line should control the line of scrimmage, creating lanes for Chubb to exploit while Mayfield should have all day to throw against a Miami defense that ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate. Mark this down as OBJ’s long-awaited go-off game against the 32nd-ranked pass defense DVOA.
I’ll be splitting the Browns between the first-half and full-game to reduce the risk of a potential backdoor cover on a meaningless TD from FitzMagic that cuts the lead from 17 to 10.
I never thought I’d be backing the Browns as double-digit favorites, but here we are.