The first two players off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft were Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley. The Cleveland Browns seemingly locked up a franchise quarterback by taking Mayfield No. 1, while the New York Giants eschewed conventional wisdom and reaped the rewards by using the No. 2 pick on the electric Barkley.
In a rare feat, the top two picks both lived up to their billing in 2018, with Mayfield and Barkley becoming the top two offensive rookies last year. Barkley edged Mayfield for Offensive Rookie of the Year, leading to Mayfield buying Barkley a custom diamond encrusted chain over the summer, and it’s only natural that these two will be tied together for the rest of their careers. The Giants sending Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to the Browns in exchange for Jabril Peppers, Kevin Zeitler, a first-round pick, and a third-round pick this March only deepened the ties between these teams.
As such, online sportsbook BookMaker has opened NFL Win Total odds on the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns, and you can now wager on these teams head-to-head. Cleveland is projected to win three more games than the Giants in 2019.
Which Team Will Have More Wins in 2019?
Cleveland Browns -3
New York Giants +3
It’s been 12 years since the Cleveland Browns have posted a winning record, but that hasn’t done anything to dissuade people from thinking this is the year the Browns will turn it around. Cleveland is an exciting, young team that has a ton of talent, and the franchise has the pieces to break a 17-year playoff drought.
Mayfield is the key to it all. He is the most valuable commodity in the NFL, a promising young quarterback on a rookie contract, and the Browns are in win-now mode after a stellar rookie campaign from the former Heisman Trophy winner. Mayfield averaged more than 266 passing yards per game and threw 27 touchdowns in 2018, and he stands to be even better in 2019.
Give credit to Cleveland for giving Mayfield all the weapons he needs. The Browns traded for Jarvis Landry last offseason, watching Landry become a Pro Bowl player, and the team added an even bigger threat with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ is an elite receiver and Cleveland now boasts one of the best passing attacks in football.
The ground game is superb too. Nick Chubb posted excellent numbers as a rookie running back, but he will need to be a bigger threat out of the backfield in 2019. This offensive line was phenomenal over the last half of 2018, and if that holds, the Browns offense will be an elite unit. Multiple starters had career seasons though, so that could be wishful thinking.
This defense could turn a corner too. Myles Garrett was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he has performed like an elite pass rusher. Olivier Vernon has the tools to be a top pass rusher, and the back seven was focused on heavily in this year’s draft. Cleveland used its first four picks on either linebackers or defensive backs, so the Browns are hoping some of those players hit to make this unit elite.
NY Giants Preview
It’s going to be a long season in the Big Apple. The Giants dealt OBJ and Vernon, and they are in rebuilding mode under GM Dave Gettleman. Eli Manning is on his way out as the team’s quarterback, but there are huge red flags surrounding first-round pick Daniel Jones. No one knows just how Pat Shurmur will split the playing time between these two signal callers.
The team will be very dependent on Saquon Barkley this season. Barkley is the team’s only real offensive weapon, and he should get even more touches after racking up 350 touches in 2018. The rookie finished with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage n 2018 and should have even more this year.
There are no proven receivers on this team. Sterling Shepard is a decent talent, but he’s not a No. 1 guy, and the other receivers on the roster are veritable unknowns. Evan Engram could have a great season at tight end, yet this offense is likely to be bad.
The Giants are in rebuild mode on defense too. They used two first-round picks and seven 2019 picks overall to shore things up on this side of the ball, so this unit is likely going to have some growing pains early this season. There are real concerns about the lack of pass rush, but at least the secondary stands to be decent.
Although I think the Browns’ hype is a little overblown, Cleveland is significantly better than the Giants. They will win at least 3 more games than the rebuilding Giants, who will be fortunate to get to six wins this season.
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