On February 10, the odds on the Cleveland Browns in the proposition bet “To Win Super Bowl LIV” were at 20/1. Two days later, the team more-than-somewhat controversially signed disgraced and waived RB Kareem Hunt; this budged the lines on the Browns little. But ink Odell Beckham Jr., one of the league’s most explosive, dynamic and beloved wide receivers? That’s shorten those odds.
Within an hour of the Cleveland-New York Giants trade announcement, the Browns’ odds to win the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship were experiencing more shrinkage than George Costanza in the pool, dropping to 14/1 in a hurry. As of this writing approximately 16 hours after the news broke, the odds on Cleveland have stabilized there but have dropped to an incredible 7/1 in the “To Win Conference” prop.
But as awesome as OBJ is, does his mere addition to a team with a looooooooooooooooooong history of mediocrity automatically better the Browns’ chances by 33%? Are the Browns really getting the *third-shortest odds* to win the AFC after the Kansas City Chiefs (now at 10/3, down from 3/1) and *freaking NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS?!?!??!???!?*
Welllllll, yes, actually. Why not? Even without Hunt – and, if this splashy trade is factored into the NFL’s consideration to return the halfback to active, Hunt and Cleveland will be united later, if ever, rather than sooner – the Browns have one serious-looking offense, with QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, WR Jarvis Landry and TE David Njoku awaiting OBJ’s plugging-in. The offensive line is middling at bets, but free agency and the draft have yet to go down; plenty of time to improve this area.
Despite the departure of Jabril Peppers in the OBJ trade, teh Browns defense should be just as good as last season’s top-10 passing D with the addition of Pro Bowl LB Olivier Vernon joining the likes of CB Denzel Ward, LB Jamie Collins and DE Myles Garrett (who looks scarier every game, it seems).
33 days ago, NFLbets noted: “The 2019 Cleveland Browns going over on wins? NFLbets’ll make that wager. To win the AFC North? Quite probably. To win the AFC? You miiiiiiiiight convince us. But to take the Lombardi Trophy? Come on now.”
Today, we’ll update this to state that Cleveland should be a 10- or even 11-win team, so bet the over/under wins accordingly. We’ll also cover the Browns to win the AFC North, as we honestly believe that they’ll go a solid 5-1 against the North’s teams in rebuild and/or decline and should be getting three wins against the AFC East. By dint of their third-place finish in 2018, the Browns get The Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos, this far out both looking like wins.
As for those odds to win the AFC, 7/1 may be too short. The NFL may be in a period of revolution, with younger talent (and teams) taking over for the old guard, but it’s tough to depend on a team like Cleveland with so much youth at key positons plus two mercurial WRs – if anything, we’re even more bearish on the Browns in the “To Win Conference” and “To Win Super Bowl LIV” post-Beckham trade. We’d stay away from these two props.
Now, covering the Browns in a “To Win Super Bowl LV” proposition bet? *That* would be worth serious consideration.