CLEVELAND BROWNS at CAROLINA PANTHERS
Cleveland Browns +2.5 (-110) o41.5 (-110) +110
Carolina Panthers -2.5 (-110) u41.5 (-110) -135
Everyone's talking about this as the B. Mayfield big revenge game. In fact, many handicappers we've talked to have Carolina as their best pick of the week, thinking the ex-Brown QB wants to show his old team (Cleveland) they made huge a mistake in letting him go during the offseason. We're big believers in motivation when analyzing games, but one thing we've also learned is the opening week in the NFL is motivation enough for just about any player or team. Hence, we think this "revenge" thing is a bit overrated.
What could come into play, however, is some possibility that, if ahead, the Panthers might want to run up the score as both a payoff to Mayfield and a confidence builder for the team. We're not saying that will happen, but it does enter the multitude of possibilities.
Despite this, we'd be cautious about laying points with Carolina. Key fact: The Panthers lost 7 straight games to close out last season, and head coach M. Rhule is just 10-23 SU and 14-19 ATS heading into his third season at the helm. This line screams market overreaction!
Yes, the Browns were wildly inconsistent last season, one reason Mayfield was shipped out of town. Cleveland's front office is also notorious for offseason blunders, and the D. Watson matter only reinforces those negative perceptions.
Still, K. Stefanski is a rare Cleveland head coach with a winning career record (20-15 SU).
Journeyman J. Brissett will start for the Browns, who isn't flashy but also hasn't been surrounded by much talent in the past. This season, the Browns look pretty solid away from the quarterback position. They should lean on their deep running game featuring N. Chubb to facilitate Brissett's first start.
We see a close game and possibly a mild upset here, so we are taking the Browns plus the points for both the first half and the game.