The Cleveland Browns have won all of one game in the past two seasons combined, including a winless mark in 2017. So obviously expectations are going to be pretty low again, but the oddsmakers do see a decent amount of improvement coming.
Cleveland made some key additions in free agency and then had two of the first four picks in the draft. They grabbed quarterback Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall and then added cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4. If those two players can turn into stars the team’s fortunes could begin improving quickly.
Mayfield isn’t expected to start the year on the field as veteran Tyrod Taylor was acquired via trade and should be a nice upgrade at the position. The Browns almost certainly won’t go winless once again in 2018 but can they surpass the projected win total in NFL gambling?
Cleveland Browns Opening Futures Odds at BookMaker.eu
Browns Over 5.5 Wins -153
Browns Under 5.5 Wins +126
2018 Browns Offense Preview
The Browns averaged only 14.6 points per game a season ago, which was the worst in the NFL. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was thrown to the wolves as the starter and didn’t fare well. However, Cleveland has a lot of new pieces on this side of the ball. Taylor and Mayfield are a big upgrade at quarterback, while running back Carlos Hyde and wide receiver Jarvis Landry were signed in free agency.
Duke Johnson is back as one of the team’s top returning offensive pieces. Electric wide receiver Josh Gordon missed almost all of last season with off-field issues and didn’t report to training camp for a couple weeks while taking care of himself. When he’s on the field Gordon is a dynamic talent, but it’s hard to know if he will be available consistently all year.
The Browns seem destined to improve from a year ago on offense but will need to take a large step forward in order to finish close to .500 this season.
2018 Browns Defense Preview
Cleveland is young on defense but there are a lot of players with talent. Defensive end Myles Garrett was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft and could be poised to have a big year getting after quarterbacks. Linebacker Jamie Collins is one of the few veterans in the group, while safety Jabrill Peppers and Ward are young but talented defensive backs.
The Browns added safety Damarious Randall in a trade of Kizer to the Packers this offseason as the secondary has boom or bust potential with a lot of talented but young players. The Browns gave up 25.6 points per game a year ago but if Garrett plays well and the defensive backs hold up, this group could be closer to league average.
2018 Cleveland Browns Schedule Analysis
The Browns face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals twice apiece, and more than a couple of wins in the division seems unlikely. Cleveland has a couple of games in the first half of the season against the Jets and Buccaneers that they seemingly need to win in order to have a shot at passing five wins.
There are some tough contests on the schedule, including road games against the Saints and Texans as well as home affairs against the Panthers, Falcons, Chiefs and Chargers in addition to the divisional games.
The Final Verdict
The Browns are going to be better this season but will need to pull off a few key home upsets in order to surpass 5.5 wins. If Cleveland falls to either the Jets or Tampa Bay, it seems like a tough road to get to the projected total. The Browns have too tough of a slate this year. While there have been some nice moves on paper, it could take one more year before this team is truly ready to be competitive on a week in and week out basis in NFL gambling.
NFL Betting Odds: Cleveland Browns Under 5.5 Wins ( +126 )
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