The Philadelphia Eagles got some good news on the injury front when it was determined Nick Foles had a minor shoulder sprain. The potential loss of Foles, combined with the uncertainly of Carson Wentz leaves the Eagles in no position to take any risks when they visit the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 of the preseason. Nate Sudfeld has been the busiest quarterback this preseason and he’ll get plenty of snaps. But for the defending champs it’s about getting ready for the regular season and these exhibition games are becoming a nuisance.
This duel in Week 3 of the preseason will go down Thursday, August 23, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET at FirstEnergy Field. The game will be televised live on FOX.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Philadelphia Eagles +3
Cleveland Browns -3
It’s hard to gauge a team when it doesn’t have all of its weapons. The Eagles have been playing shorthanded all preseason as they wait for the QB situation to settle down. Week 3 usually sees starters play the most snaps and Philly is down to its No. 3 QB. The Browns are favored by the standard field goal for home field advantage with the total at 42.5.
Starters typically see more action in the Week 3 dress rehearsal only the Eagles don’t have theirs available for this matchup. Wentz is still recovering from his knee injury and won’t play during the preseason. Foles sustained his shoulder injury last week, and while it’s not considered serious, it is enough to keep him on the sideline for precautionary reasons.
That leaves plenty of reps for Nate Sudfeld, who likely gets the start. Sudfeld threw 39 passes last week against the Patriots, completing 22 for 312 yards with three touchdowns. And there is a dilemma for Doug Pederson. Sudfeld becomes the backup if Wentz or Foles aren’t cleared for the opener, and he starts if both are unable to play. So how long does he go on Thursday? Joe Callahan took a few snaps last week and Christian Hackenberg was signed as a camp arm.
Since they acquired him the Browns have said Tyrod Taylor is the starter and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield will be eased into his rookie season. Hue Jackson shows no intention of deviating from that plan and Taylor is in line to get more reps on Thursday. Taylor played into the second quarter last week, completing 4 of 7 passes for 22 yards. The Browns scored on their opening drive but failed in three more possessions with Taylor at the helm.
Mayfield played a majority of the snaps and had some moments, though he wasn’t as effective as he was in the preseason opener. He finished 7 of 13 for 75 yards and directed a pair of scoring drives that gave the Browns the lead early in the fourth quarter. Drew Stanton took over and was ineffective, misfiring on all four pass attempts with three-and-outs in his two drives.
It hasn’t been the best preseason for the Eagles, who moved to 0-2 SU and ATS with a 17-point loss to New England. But for Pederson it isn’t about wins and losses. The quarterback situation needs to be worked out and that’ll come with time as injuries heal. And issues on defense have been problematic with the group surrendering more than 30 points and cashing the over in the first two games.
The Browns had their five-game preseason winning streak snapped last week and that might actually be a good thing. After going undefeated last year, the Browns went out and lost every regular season matchup. Jackson is 5-5 during the preseason in his Cleveland tenure and 5-9 SU and ATS in his career.
Free ATS Pick
It’s time for the defending champs to get serious as the regular season nears. Expect the defense to pick things up after getting shredded in the first two games and the starters will play a little longer in this one. Concerns remain for the offense, however, with Sudfeld getting the nod.
The Browns were sloppy last week and it cost them a chance at a victory. Senseless penalties and overall dumb mistakes are something this team needs to avoid since they aren’t good enough to overcome them. I expect them to be more disciplined on Thursday and that should be enough to get them a victory.
NFL Odds: Browns 26, Eagles 20
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