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NFL Football Betting: Cleveland Browns at St. Louis Rams
NOTABLE STAT: Cleveland 4.9 yards per rush allowed, but NO rushing touchdowns for St. Louis
KEY NFL FOOTBALL BETTING TREND: Cleveland six overs, no unders in 2007; St. Louis six unders, one over this year
BetUS NFL betting odds: Cleveland -4, Total: 44.5
The Cleveland Browns (3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS) feel they have some positive momentum. In fact, the only thing they want to guard against is overconfidence as they travel to St. Louis to play the Rams (0-7 SU, 1-6 ATS), who are still looking for their first win of the 2007 season, in a game that starts at 1 PM ET at the Edward Jones Dome (artificial turf). In the Top Sportsbooks NFL football betting odds, Cleveland is listed at -4, with a total posted at 44.5 points.
St. Louis is a disaster area, having been destroyed by injuries. The two outstanding veteran wide receivers, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, are in the lineup, as is tight end Randy McMichael, but the others who help comprise the three and four-wide receiver sets, like Drew Bennett and Dante Hall, have been missing. If there is a bright spot, it’s that Steven Jackson, the running back who gained 1528 yards last year, is likely to come back to action after missing four games, although it should be noted that before going out of the lineup, he had only averaged 3.4 yards a carry.
Part of the reason is that the offensive line is in tatters, having lost three starters. Now center Brett Romberg has two badly sprained ankles – “the maximum allowable by God,” in the words of St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Jeff Gordon – and may not play. St. Louis coach Scott Linehan would have put Claude Terrell in the lineup at guard, while shifting Andy McCollum to center, but Terrell was arrested for a domestic assault on Tuesday and has since been released. We’re looking at the sixth different offensive line combination in eight weeks as the Rams line up against Cleveland.
Let’s take a quick look at some NFL betting trends that are relative to this matchup:
* CLEVELAND has played all of its six games over the total in ’07
* ST. LOUIS has played six of its seven games under the total
* CLEVELAND has lost its last five road games SU
* ST. LOUIS is 2-6 ATS in its last eight home games
* ST. LOUIS has lost five of its last six home games SU
* ST. LOUIS has played four of its last six home games over the total
* CLEVELAND is 18-4 ATS in road games where the total has been greater than 40 points
The Browns went into their bye week as a team that considered itself very much in the hunt for a wildcard spot. All of a sudden this team has an offense (27.8 ppg), with Derek Anderson standing third in the league with 14 touchdown passes. His main targets, Braylon Edwards (29 catches, 552 yards, 7 TD’s) and Kellen Winslow (29 catches, 506 yards) have been consistent all year long. Jamal Lewis (382 rushing yards, 5 TD’s), who’s had a bad foot, will try to make post. He has been instrumental in achieving the offensive balance Cleveland did not get with Reuben Droughns in the backfield last season.
Cleveland is ranked 32nd in the league in defense, a tad surprising, considering that head coach Romeo Crennel has his background on the defensive side of the ball (was coordinator for the Patriots previously). The Browns have permitted 4.9 yards per rushing attempt, which would appear inviting for Jackson but for the malfunctioning offensive line, which also allowed QB Marc Bulger to be sacked seven times in last Sunday’s 22-3 loss to Seattle. Bulger, who has been hampered by rib injuries, just isn’t throwing well. He was 21-40 with three interceptions and two lost fumbles against the Seahawks, and got involved in a shouting match with Linehan on the sidelines after one mistake in the red zone. The Rams have failed to score a rushing touchdown all season, and have turned the ball over 23 times. That is completely antithetical to the policy Linehan came into his head coaching job with.
On top of everything else, McMichael has gone public in guaranteeing a St. Louis win. That is interesting, since what Crennel has been stressing with his team is not to get too overconfident, and remember when they became complacent in traveling to Oakland – a game his Browns perhaps should have won but lost by a 26-24 count. Cleveland does have something of an obstacle to overcome, as the team has not won two games in a row since the 2003 season.
I’m not that comfortable in laying points with Cleveland in this road situation, and under no circumstances are the Rams a team that can be recommended. They have provided a textbook example of how valuable the offensive line is, by way of seeing what catastrophe widespread injuries can cause. Bulger is not being Bulger right now, and it doesn’t look as if he’ll emerge again all of a sudden. Consequently, I don’t think the Rams can exploit Cleveland’s weaknesses on defenses to their fullest, since they are not able to utilize Holt or Bruce properly. But there is encouragement on the defensive side for St. Louis. Seattle really didn’t do a whole lot on offense last week, and there has been no running back to rush for 100 yards against the Rams thus far. Yielding just 552 combined yards in the last two games isn’t bad. Without a strong case for either team here, we will opt for the “under,” and look for the Browns to slow up a bit on the road, in switching playing surfaces, and with Lewis less than 100%.
JAY’S FREE PICK: UNDER 44.5 ** (Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)
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