Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#271 Houston Texans vs.
#272 Cleveland Browns
Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 1:00pm EDT
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
Written by David Delano

The Cleveland Browns will host the Houston Texans on Sunday. According to ESPN, the Browns will come into the game ranked No. 6 in the NFL Power Rankings, and the Texans are No. 29. The Texans are 1-0 after winning the season opener 37-21 as a 3.5 point home dog to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Browns are 0-1 after losing on the road 33-29, as a 5.5-point dog to the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The Browns and Texans played in Cleveland during Week 10 last year, with the Browns winning 10-7, but not covering the spread as 4.5-point. Nick Chubb broke off a 59-yard run in that game with 1:07 left but chose to step out of bounds at the one-yard line, which allowed the Browns to seal the win, with two quarterback kneels. Although Chubb's decision secured the win, it drew a lot of attention in the sports betting world, as it affected the outcome of the spread.

Line Movements & Weather

The Browns have gone from -13 up0 to -13.5 at most shops while snatching up 51% of the bets.

The OU line has gone from 46 up to 48 with the Over snatching up 64% of the bets.

Gametime Weather: Sunny Skies with Temps in the upper 70s.

Texans impressive in season opener

The Houston Texans are led by first-year head coach David Culley. Culley broke into coaching back in 1978 as a running backs coach at Austin Peay and into the NFL in 1994 as a wide receiver coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After spending the last two seasons as the Assistant Head Coach, WR coach & Passing game coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, Culley is getting his first opportunity to lead a team at 65 years old. The hiring of Culley was not widely praised around the league. Sports Illustrated gave Texas a D+ for the coaching hire, the lowest rating for any new head coach hiring for 2021. The Texans also came into the season with an over/under win total set at four by Las Vegas, the lowest of any team in the league.

Coming into the season, the situation Culley inherited in Houston was messy on the surface. As widely reported, three-time Pro Bowl quarterback DeShaun Watson is currently involved in an investigation and controversy pertaining to sexual assault allegations. The team has chosen to keep Watson on the 53-man roster but not play him.

The season opener was anything but messy for the Texans, as they dominated early, building a 27-7 halftime and 34-7 lead late in the third quarter before Jacksonville would make the score appear a little bit closer. Houston outgained Jacksonville 449 to 395 in total yardage and did not turn the ball over while capitalizing on three interceptions thrown by Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor played well, completing 21 of 33 passing for 291 yards with two touchdowns and also ran for another 40 yards. Brandin Cooks had a big game at wide receiver with five catches for 132 yards, and Mark Ingram led the team in rushing with 85 yards and one touchdown on 26 attempts.

Injury Report

Out - LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, DL Vincent Taylor, K Ka'imi Fairbairn, and DB A.J. Moore Jr.

Questionable - WR Anthony Miller

Browns drop heartbreaker in Kansas City

In 2020, the Browns went 11-5 and advanced to the second round of the AFC playoffs. Last year was the franchise's first winning season since 2007, first playoff appearance since 2002, and first playoff win since the 1994 season. Now in the second season of the Kevin Stefanski era, the expectations are higher in Cleveland. The Browns went into Week 1 with an over/win total set at 10.5 and +800 odds to win the AFC Championship, which is tied for third-best in the conference after Kansas City and Buffalo.

The Browns faced the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, who have won the AFC the past two seasons. Cleveland outplayed Kansas City for most of the game, building a 22-10 halftime lead. However, the Browns missed a huge opportunity to be up by even more when rookie wide receiver Anthony Schwartz ran a poor route with 43 seconds left on an incomplete pass by Baker Mayfield before half-time that could have potentially put the Browns on by 19 points. Cleveland still was in control when it took a 29-20 lead on a two-yard run by Kareem Hunt with 10:24 left in the fourth quarter, but momentum shifted quickly after Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a 75 yards touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill on the first play of the next drive. The Browns would then go three-and-out for the first time of the game, on a drive that ended with punter Jamie Gillan fumbling the snap, which allowed the Chiefs to go ahead 33-29 on a three-play 15 yard touchdown drive. Cleveland would get two more chances to take the lead but failed to score with their final hopes ending on a Baker Mayfield interception with 1:16 left in the game.

Cleveland did outgain Kansas City 457 to 397 in total yards and 24 to 21 in first downs despite the loss. The Chiefs, however, did not turn the ball over, and the Browns committed two. Baker Mayfield had a solid game completing 21 of 28 passes for 321 yards, completing three passes for 76 yards to tight end David Njoku, and five passes for 71 yards to veteran receiver Jarvis Landry.

In 2020, the Browns were third in the NFL with 148.4 rushing yards per game. Cleveland is once again expected to be amongst the best running teams, as they have they likely have the best one-two running back punch in the NFL. The Browns ran for 153 yards on 5.9 yards per attempt with four touchdowns in the loss to Kansas City. Nick Chubb carried the ball 15 times for 83 yards with a touchdown, and Kareem Hunt picked up 33 yards on six carries with a touchdown.

Injury Report

Out - OT Chris Hubbard, LB Anthony Walker, and WR Odell Beckham Jr.,

Questionable - WR Anthony Schwartz, DB Greg Newsome II, C JC Tretter, OT Jack Conklin, OT Jedrick Wills Jr., OG Michael Dunn, and LB Tony Fields II

Best Bets for this Game

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Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Based on the projected win totals, Vegas predicted the Browns to be the seventh-best team in the NFL and for the Texans to be the worst this season. Although I'd say the Browns' prediction looks accurate after Week 1, Houston hasn't done anything yet to prove that they will actually be as bad as the experts think.

Cleveland had an emotional loss at Kansas City, a game you knew they'd get up for, and now are in a situation where they are expected to blow out the Texans at home. On the other side, Houston should come out with a chip on their shoulder. Very few people are giving the Texans a chance on Sunday or to have much success this season. The Texans will give the Browns their best shot and have stability at the quarterback position led by Tyrod Taylor. Taylor lost his starting job to Baker Mayfield when he played for the Browns in 2018, but his career has proven that he will not make many mistakes and give his team a chance to win in most games.

Being a two-touchdown favorite is a lot in the NFL, especially in Week 2 when both teams are relatively healthy and not worn down; take Houston to put up a fight and cover on Sunday.

Prediction: Houston Texans +13

Full-Game Total Pick

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Rating:

The Texans allowed a league-worst 160.2 rushing yards per game last season and should struggle to stop the Browns from moving the ball efficiently. On the other end, although the Texas passing game is not on the same level as Kansas City's, I do expect Tyrod Taylor to come out motivated to play well against his former team. The Browns do have some questions regarding the strength of their secondary after ranking 18th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per attempt last season.

Dating back to last season, 58% of the Browns games and 53% of the Texans games have gone over the total. With the Browns combining to score 62 points with the Chiefs,  and the Texans and Jaguars combining for 58 points in Week 1, I see the number of 48 as highly reachable and will take the over.

Prediction: Over 48
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Written By David Marotta , "David Delano"

David Delano is a Bowling Green State University graduate with a passion for sports, traveling, and music. David loves to handicap MLB, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, NBA, WNBA, and is also a big fan of boxing and track and field. Over the years, David has worn several hats in the sports world, from being behind the camera to writing, filming, editing, scouting, and coaching, along with servicing his clients as a sports handicapper.  He is also an expert sports bettor. We are glad to have David on our Winners & Whiners team, and we recommend that you follow along with him every day.