Browns ready for prime time (for real this time)?
Beating the Jets with a backup quarterback on Monday night is one thing, and beating the Rams on Sunday night is something different entirely. This past week, the Browns defense dominated a Sam Darnold-less Jets squad from start to finish, rebounding for their Week 1 dud against the Titans.
It was worse than the 23-3 score indicated. Baker Mayfield had thrown for 325 yards and a touchdown, Odell Beckham Jr. caught six passes for 161 yards and a dominant Browns defense recorded four sacks. It was a complete effort, but that is in the rearview mirror.
Now the Browns have an entirely different test. Through the first two weeks of the 2019 season, the Rams have looked rock solid and are a strong bet on anyone’s NFL picks card. Sean McVay sat a bunch of starters this preseason so it was expected that in Week 1 there might be some rust. That rust would last all of one half.
Cooper Kupp a difference for Rams once again
Much of the betting public was on the Saints for last week’s NFC championship game rematch, but I was not. The Rams were better on every side of the ball in Week 2 en route to a 27-9 win and a 2-0 start to the young season. So what was the difference last week, and why was the scoring margin so much bigger that the NFC championship game? That can be summed up in four words: Cooper Kupp is healthy.
We already know how good the Rams are; they played in the Super Bowl last season. We know they have the best defensive player on the planet in Aaron Donald, the perfect quarterback for McVay’s system in Jared Goff and, when healthy, a top-three running back in Todd Gurley.
What they lacked in the second half of last season was Kupp. When he went down with a season ending leg injury last year, so did Goff’s security blanket.
Kupp was the receiver who Goff would look to any time a play would breakdown. He was his first look on third-and-short and when that went away last season, the offense became incredibly stale. Look no further than last week. We saw a very different Rams team against the Saints than we saw when the two teams played in last season’s playoffs.
Kupp kept the chains moving for this offense. If he stays healthy this season, they have a great chance to be back in the Super Bowl.
Rams vs. Browns odds, picks
The Browns are not ready for this test. They are still showing the rust of the offseason. Despite the blowout win last week over a team that played their third-string quarterback, they looked very sloppy at times. They can’t afford that many mistakes against a Super Bowl-caliber football team like Los Angeles. In the most current NFL odds, the Rams sit as -3 favorites, with the total line set in most sportsbooks at 47.5.
The Browns are at least one more year away from being able to hang with the big boys. At least, that’s what the analytics say. Currently the Browns are ranked 27th in Offensive DVOA and that’s not good enough against the machine that is the Rams offense.
On the flip side, the Rams walk into the Week 3 matchup with the fifth-best defense in football, according to the number crunchers, which spells a long day for the Browns offense. The only saving grace the Browns have is the homefield advantage, and I don’t think it’s enough. There are levels to this game and the Rams are at least two above the Browns. Book It!
Opening line: Rams -1
Total SNF parlay odds (+180)
Parlay Leg 1: Los Angeles Rams moneyline (-164)
Parlay Leg 2: Under 49.5 (-135)