Preseason Week 1 NFL Odds – Browns at Giants Game Preview

Preseason Week 1 NFL Odds

The debut of New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur will be overshadowed by the players on the field. Namely the first and second overall picks from the most recent draft. Shurmur was hired to clean up the mess left by Ben McAdoo, and because of the worst season in Big Blue history they were able to land Saquon Barkley to help the anemic running game. For the second straight season the Cleveland Browns had the top pick and selected polarizing Baker Mayfield to be their quarterback of the future. We’ll see who gets the better of the first matchup between the two during Week 1 of the preseason.

This matchup in Week 1 of the preseason will go down on Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 7 p.m. ET from MetLife Stadium. The game will be shown live on NFL Network.

NFL Odds at

Cleveland Browns +2.5

New York Giants -2.5

Over/Under 34.5

Odds Analysis

Home field advantage usually means a bunch in the NFL and with the exception of one pick em, every home team is favored on the first Thursday of preseason games. That includes the Giants, who opened as 2.5-point chalk over the visiting Browns. With little data to handicap teams and rosters near 100 players, the lines and totals aren’t too exotic for Week 1. The total is an average 34.5 for this tilt.

Players to Watch

Getting a high draft pick typically means the team stunk the season before. And that was the case for the Browns and Giants in 2017. Cleveland became just the second team in NFL history to go 0-16 while the G-Men posted the most losses in a season in franchise history. As a result they ended up with the top two selections in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The spot is nothing new for the Browns, who selected first overall for the second consecutive season. And most feel they got it right again. After a nice haul in 2017 when the Browns didn’t take a quarterback, they had their pick of a rich class in April. And they took Mayfield, who had a brilliant career at Oklahoma. Mayfield will take over as the team’s QB at some point, but it won’t be at the start of 2018. With Tyrod Taylor entrenched as the starter, it’s up to Mayfield to prove he can do the job, and that happens during the preseason.

Hurt by a running game that couldn’t function last season, the Giants took Barkley with the No. 2 pick. Along with an upgraded offensive line, Barkley should help New York gain more than the 96.8 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry they mustered in 2017.

Not only is Barkley a fierce runner, he’s also dangerous out of the backfield and will work Shurmur’s offensive game plan to perfection. The coach helped the Vikings put up big numbers on offense last season when they averaged 357 yards per game with over 122 of those coming on the ground.

Coaching History

The Browns are proof that the preseason is meaningless. They went undefeated last year covering the spread in all four games, then proceeded to lose every regular season contest. During his two years as Cleveland’s coach Hue Jackson has more exhibition wins than regular season victories.

This is Shurmur’s first year with the Giants, but he does have previous experience as a head coach. He led the Browns in 2011 and 2012, producing nine total regular season victories in that span, which is a bonanza compared to what the club has done recently. It’s safe to say he doesn’t want to lose to his former club, even if it is a preseason contest.

Free ATS Pick

We won’t see New York’s skill players on the field much, but the offensive line is a work in progress and Shurmur needs to get the group functioning at a high level with several new pieces. The line will be much improved over last season with the addition of Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh on the left side, giving the team a direction to run the football.

Davis Webb will get plenty of work behind Eli Manning and Jonathan Stewart is the No. 2 back to Barkley, giving the Giants some options at those spots. Once the Browns swap out their top defenders, those two will go to work to give the G-Men an edge. Mayfield will get reps against New York’s reserves and he’s been good in practice against second- and third-stringers. If that translates to game day, the over is the right pick.

NFL Odds: Giants 27, Browns 21

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