Pro Football Betting: Colts and Browns: Are They For Real?

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns NFL betting preview, odds and picks

If you can believe it, the Cleveland Browns are 3-1 for the first time since the 2011 season. And meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts seem to have recovered from an opening loss to Jacksonville to post a 3-1 mark as well. On Sunday these teams will meet up at 4:25 PM ET at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

In the pro football betting odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Colts come up as a road favorite:

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns Betting Odds

ColtsPK (-110)48 (-115)--
BrownsPK (-110)48 (-105)--
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Colts defense ranks at the top

The Colts have done a tremendous job on the stop end. In fact, they have allowed their opponents only 4.4 yards per play. That’s the best figure in the NFL. They are also at the top of the list when it comes to yards allowed per pass attempt.

Some of this is a function of the opponents they have played. Minnesota did not have it act together. The Jets and Chicago Bears are very limited on offense. Last week they held Chicago to just 28 rushing yards on 16 attempts. And they greatly mitigated the effect of the Bears switching to Nick Foles as the starting quarterback.

A lot of observers are anxious to see what the Colts will be able to do with an offense that has more to offer.

Are the Browns clicking with Kevin Stefanski?

Cleveland has been through a multitude of coaches. And the latest hire is Kevin Stefanski, who was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota last season. Whether he’s a legitimate “guru” or not remains to be seen, but you can see the makings of something successful.

For one thing, Cleveland is formidable running the football. There is a bit of a glitch this week, as Nick Chubb’s knee has required that he go on injured reserve. But Kareem Hunt will apparently play through his groin ailment. And things were working well enough last Sunday that D’Ernest Johnson, an unknown, had 95 yards on the ground. So these guys really have something going.

Baker Mayfield may be more familiar to most people for his TV commercials. But he’s perfectly capable of calling up two of the more dangerous receivers in the game. Everyone is familiar with what Odell Beckham can do. And he made big plays in rather unconventional fashion against Dallas last week. One of them was a 50-yard run on a reverse. And then there was a 37-yard touchdown reception from the other receiver, Jarvis Landry.

All told, Cleveland ran up 507 yards against the Cowboys – 307 on the ground – in a 49-38 win.

AFC South might be Colts’ for the taking

The Colts are actually not in a bad position in the AFC South. You have to consider that the Tennessee Titans have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak which might disrupt their season. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans have done badly enough that it has prompted a coaching change. And the Jacksonville Jaguars are, at best, a work in progress. So this is a golden opportunity for them.

Can Rivers drive them to a title?

When the Colts acquired Philip Rivers, it was with a division championship in mind. Don’t make any mistake about that. They knew they had the makings of a very effective ground game, and there was Rivers’ veteran presence that was preferred over Jacoby Brissett. So Rivers was seen as the missing ingredient by coach Frank Reich, who worked with him in San Diego.

But Indianapolis, despite having wideout TY Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle, lacked a lot of explosiveness in the air game. And their problem has not necessarily been gaining yardage, but rather, gaining yardage in the right areas of the field. Ranked 28th out of 32 teams in touchdown percentage in the red zone, they can’t push the ball over. Too often they have had to settle for three points. This was the case last week in Chicago, where they wound up with four field goals. Will this be a problem as the season progresses?


Plain and simple, the red zone problems plague the Colts. And for that reason, we wonder whether they are going to wind up underachieving. When you look at Cleveland’s numbers, you’ve got to kind of like what you see. That’s because they are running the ball 53% of the time, which is an NFL high. And when you can do that, you’re getting balance in your offense. Add to that the playmakers like Beckham and Landry, and things bode well for this week. So we’re on the Browns at home.

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