Today's Free Picks for
Posted Friday at 12:45 PM EST
1:00 PM EST. Alright, let’s see if we have this right. The 0-2 Browns lost by 14 points in their only other road game this year. They have not won a road game in nearly two years. It’s not just that Cleveland is an 0-2 team whose rookie quarterback and his second-year backup combined to throw four interceptions and lose a fumble in a 24-10 loss to the Ravens last week. It’s that the Browns haven’t been a road favorite in three years and have been a road favorite only three times in the last 10 seasons. There are significantly more NFL games that now end in ties than games that began with Cleveland being favored on the road. Browns’ Rookie QB, DeShone Kizer brings in a new feature to the offense - migraine headaches. He was pulled from the Week 2 game because of one and that left Kevin Hogan running the offense. Cleveland has had only two winning seasons since its franchise reboot in 1999 while the Colts have had just two losing seasons over the same span. Indy has played in an AFC championship game more recently than the Browns have been favored on the road, which occurred in the January 2015 matchup with the Patriots that spawned Deflategate. Cleveland favored on the road? Seriously?
Meanwhile, the Colts are 1-1 and had the Cardinals by the short hairs last week before succumbing in OT. From gate to almost wire, the Colts led outright and were never in danger of not covering. That effort and near win against a perceived quality opponent instantly gives the Colts some market credentials. Hell, if Indy could put a scare into Carson Palmer and the Cardinals, facing the Browns should be much easier, no? The general feeling around the market is that the Colts are a steal at home this week but do you really think that the books made a bad line here? On a “normal” Sunday, this game would be the least talked about game on the menu but with Cleveland favored on the road, the game sticks out like Shaquille O’Neal in a room full of midgets and we’re here to assure you that the books don’t have it wrong.
The worst way that a team can handle an injury is by forcing an injured player back into action before he’s ready, and the Colts decidedly have not done that. But the whole thing has been botched. Luck’s injury was not a surprise; the Colts knew he was hurting and presumably gave him the go-ahead to have a non-urgent procedure to fix a problem. This gave Indianapolis the entire 2017 offseason to plan for the possibility of Luck missing extended time. The Colts could have signed a competent backup, as many were available (one of those quarterbacks was Colin Kaepernick, who is still unsigned). They could have used a mid- to late-round draft pick on a quarterback and given the youngster the opportunity to spend training camp and the preseason practicing with a first-team NFL offense.
Instead the Colts rolled with quarterback Scott Tolzien, who at no point has displayed anything resembling competence. He entered this season with two career touchdown passes and seven interceptions in six NFL seasons. After playing for three quarters in Week 1 against the Rams, he now has two career touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Indy scrambled upon realizing it was heading into the fall with such an awful QB and hastily traded for Jacoby Brissett from the Pats a week before the season. Brissett is fine—he’s the greatest preseason quarterback of all time—but the Colts had to give up 2015 first-round pick Phillip Dorsett to get him and are now starting a player who still might have to use Waze to find the team’s facility. It’s baffling that the team would fail to plan for the absence of its franchise passer—who, quite frankly, is the only point of strength on an aggressively weak roster.
The Colts’ best running back is 34-year-old Frank Gore. Their offensive line is piecemeal. They have basically no good defensive players other than cornerback Vontae Davis, who is also injured. Stunningly, the Colts’ defensive starting lineup in Week 1 was composed entirely of players who did not start in Indianapolis’s season-opener last year, a feat that’s nearly impossible to pull off. The Colts roster is a joke. They have without question the worst collection of talent in the NFL and perhaps the worst ever.
The Brownies have not been outplayed against two quality opponents and had it not been for losing the turnover battle to Baltimore last week, 5-2 that game may have had a different outcome. This market likely doesn’t even realize how close the Brownies came to knocking off the Steelers in Week 1. This game is a defining moment for the Brownies. They have done some great drafting and have quality players throughout the entire roster. Losing to a roster this bad does not show progress and will send an already frustrated fan base and media into a frenzy of harsh criticism. Yes indeed folks, the odds makers did make a bad line here and we get to take advantage of it. Cleveland should be -7 and not -1½.
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Cleveland -1½ -105 (Risking 2.1 units - To Win: 2.00)