In a possible copout, this is how NFLbets is betting Denver Broncos -2 at Cleveland

Thursday, 21 October 2021 16:28 EST

Well, this week’s Thursday Night Football matchup demonstrates the flexibility of dozens of team storylines – the “narrative” if you like – in the NFL. For week 7, TNF pits a home team which was among the preseason Super Bowl favorites and boasted a roster loaded with superstar talent against a visiting side now into a sixth season of mediocrity and on a “run” of 15-28 SU/20-23 ATS in away games.

Naturally, the visitors are favored by 2:

Denver Broncos -2 at Cleveland Browns, over/under 41½ points

After a bruising pair of games at the Los Angeles Chargers and against the Arizona Cardinals, the Browns racked up an impressive-looking injury list in time for this short-week game against the Broncos.

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are out, instantly eliminating the most potent 1-2 halfback combination in decades with them. Odell Beckham Jr. likely won't play. Staring offensive linemen Jake Conklin and J.C. Trotter are out, so so much for that no. 1 line this week as well.

Then there’s Baker Mayfield, left mostly armless by the J.J. Watt and the destructive Cardinals pass rush last weekend. This team is hardly defined by their quarterback – indeed, these Browns are unique in that their QB isn’t bad but is maybe the 14th or 15th best starter – but this week the starter is Case Keenum, who’s on 1-7 SU/ATS streak as a starter and has racked up 13 pass attempts in the past two seasons with Cleveland.

The rhetorical question is obvious: How can you bet on Case Keenum?

The retort, however, is just as easy: What are the Broncos bringing? Since Nick Fangio took over as head coach in 2018, the Denver offense has averaged just 19.2 points per game and regardless of quarterback, Fangio’s Broncos have scored 20 points or fewer in 22 or 38 games. After taking out the three-headed beatdog of Giants, Jets and Jaguars, the Broncos offense is even lower-scoring at 16.66 ppg and a once top-5 defense has become utterly mundane.

On the other side, the Browns may be wrecked on offense but is mostly still fully loaded on D (JaDaveon Clowney may be out, but what else is new?). Cleveland’s backers will certainly hope the Browns’ previous two games are down to the potency of the Cardinals and Chargers offenses.

You can see where NFLbets is heading with this: Whether or not Von Miller makes good on his boast to “have a great game” and “to kill” the Browns’ LT for the game, possibly Jedrick Wills but likely utility backup Jedrick Wills – very little should be expected from Keenum, whose teams have topped 24 points just twice in his past 23 starts, and a crippled offense. And while any outcome is certainly imaginable in terms of point spread and money line (ML) bets, even a ’spread-based final score of 21-19 or 22-20 feels well too high. Take the under on an O/U of 41½ points.

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.