Week 7 of the NFL season starts with an old fashion grind it out clunker when Denver and Cleveland meet tonight. It will be a windy day in Cleveland apparently (it was supposed to be windy last Sunday too) with wind gusts ranging between 15-30 miles an hour with rain at a 70 percent chance according to the national weather service.
Here are the odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Denver at Cleveland (Thursday Night Football)
Spread: Cleveland (-1.5)
Injuries are a big headline for this contest. Cleveland will be without a majority of their offensive unit with Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, and Baker Mayfield, and Jarvis Landry confirmed out - along with three offensive lineman Jack Conklin, JC Tretter, and Jederick Wills ruled questionable. Fair to note WR Odell Beckham will be a game time decision as well.
Injuries have hurt the Broncos as well, LT Garrett Boles will be a game time decision and Teddy Bridgewater will be without top receiving targets KJ Hamler and Jerry Jeudy. Denver lost three straight games after a 3-0 start. The seat under Vic Fangio, is starting to warm up.
There is one interesting storyline and that is that this is a potential revenge game for Case Keenum who will be quarterbacking against his former team and offensive coordinator. He is going to have a chance to move the ball against a defense that has been sputtering, Denver's once-feared defense has been decidedly average the past three weeks, ballooning from 26 total points allowed in three wins to 28.0 points per game given up in three losses. After ranking 1st in DVOA after facing Jacksonville and the two New York teams - Denver now rank 24th in DVOA rankings 20th against the pass and 21st against the run. Cleveland will try to rely on their run game with young tandem D'Ernest Johnson and Demetric Fellton. With Odell questionable, Donavon Peoples-Jones will look to have back to back 100 yard games to help the passing offense out.
Offensively for Denver they have been inept over the last few weeks. Bridgewater was supposed to be the conservative quarterback that would take care of the football. However, Denver has turned the ball over six times in their three losses. Bridgewater got hit 17 times in his last outing against Oakland. Now he will be facing a talented Cleveland front that ranks second in the NFL in pressure rate. Cleveland has been burned downfield in the passing game, but that was against quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Kyler Murrary. Bridgewater doesn’t provide that same threat and upside.
Denver is going to want to run the ball early and often with Javonte Williams, however Denver will have to run against Cleveland’s 6th ranked run defense. It’s going to be tough to move the ball for either team.
I have been in a conundrum trying to muster a betting pick for this game. The under is 54 percent in games with double digit wind conditions since 2003, but the number slipping all the way to 40 is below my taste. Instead I will take the better although injured roster, to take care of business at home. Cleveland has a solid defense and they are being undervalued in the betting market in this one. I’ll continue to lean my trust into Kevin Stefanski, and Case Keenum gives us just enough.
The pick Browns: -125 ML
Teddy Bridgewater under 226.5 passing yards: The lack of explosiveness, Bridgewater playing with an injured foot, and the wind conditions impact this prop. The number is inflated due to Cleveland's performance against other quarterbacks. Bridgewater won’t have much success in this game and there is a chance he gets pulled for Drew Lock if things don’t look great early.
Demetric Felton over 14.5 receiving yards: Keenum is a guy who loves checking down to running backs. Felton, will be the third down back going into this game. Felton is explosive and can also line up in the slot. Cleveland will need guys who can create YAC to move the ball. Felton will be involved in the game plan.
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