Houston @ Cleveland
Houston +120 over Cleveland

Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.

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Houston +120 over Cleveland

4:30 PM EST. The Texans weren’t supposed to be in this spot, but their reasons differed greatly from the Browns, as Houston was supposed to lack the talent necessary to make the playoffs, never mind winning 10 games and an AFC South title. In any other season, Houston would be the story here, but they are getting little more than a pat on the back and an attaboy for a job well done. The perception is that the Texans are or should be “just happy to be here,” but that notion is ridiculous. It’s just as ridiculous that the Browns are a “team of destiny.”

The Browns' road to the playoffs looks like a Disney movie with Zac Efron cast to play the Ol’ Gunslinger, Joe Flacco, who on Thanksgiving Day, was watching football with his family and tonight, will lead the Browns on the field for an improbable postseason appearance. Flacco’s resurgence has gotten many headlines, and it’s a feel-good story where he took over the Browns in Week 13 and went 4-1, leading Cleveland to an 11-6 record and the #5 seed in the AFC.

On the surface, Flacco's stats down the stretch are noteworthy, as he passed for over 1600 yards in five games while adding 13 touchdowns to eight interceptions, which doesn’t sound too bad, but his best game by far came against the lowly Jets on a short week at home on Thursday night in Week 17 where he farmed 309 yards and three touchdowns but still turned the ball over, which he has done in every game. Time makes the heart grow fonder, and Flacco, who is not highly regarded on the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks list, is now being given credit for his pedigree as a championship-winning pivot by the same talking heads who were roasting him a decade ago. Dude was a fourth string QB to start the year and now he's a road favorite in the playoffs.

The other big media narrative regarding the Brownies is their highly regarded defense, which has been given a ton of credit for being the backbone of a team that featured a rotating door at QB. However, media narrative and reality are often two different things. It’s true that Browns' defense was stingy in the early going, giving up just three points to the Bengals and Titans in Weeks 1 and 3, while also pitching a shutout against the Cardinals with Clayton Tune at QB. However, the Browns' defense has struggled on the road, allowing 26 points at Pittsburgh, 38 at Indianapolis, 24 at Seattle, 31 at Baltimore, 29 at Denver, and 36 at the Rams and 22 at Houston in Week 16.

That game in Week 16 was a 36-22 win by the Browns with Flacco going off for 368 yards and three touchdowns, and that game has an influence here as well because it was just a few weeks ago. However, what happened on Christmas Eve does not matter tonight, but what does matter is that Houston was a -3-point favorite in that game and now they are an underdog at home, which is a significant swing and a change of roles. The time to sell on Flacco and the Browns is now. Texans for the win.



Our Pick

Houston +120 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.40)