2008 Cleveland Browns AFC North Predictions May 23rd, 2008
By: NFL Handicapping Staff
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NFL Pro Football Futures Betting – Brown Bombers and Postseason
Our best Sportsbooks has its odds up for winning the Super Bowl, as well as each of the NFL’s eight divisions and two conferences. All the teams have playoff aspirations, some more realistic than others. One of the teams who felt they should have gotten there last season was the Cleveland Browns, who finished with a 10-6 record. Can Cleveland go the extra step this year?
First let’s look at the odds to win the AFC and AFC North divisions, as they appear in Our best Sportsbooks:
BetUS NFL Futures Odds
To Win AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers -120
Cleveland Browns +250
Cincinnati Bengals +350
Baltimore Ravens +750
To win the AFC Championship
New England Patriots +175
San Diego Chargers +450
Indianapolis Colts +500
Jacksonville Jaguars +900
Pittsburgh Steelers +1200
Cleveland Browns +1600
Tennessee Titans +2000
Denver Broncos +2000
Cincinnati Bengals +2200
Baltimore Ravens +2500
Houston Texans +3000
Buffalo Bills +4500
New York Jets +6000
Miami Dolphins +6600
Kansas City Chiefs +6600
Oakland Raiders +6000
Cleveland’s 10-6 record was not good enough to get them into the post-season, because they lost in the tie-breaker scenario. But there was plenty of offense, as quarterback Derek Anderson, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, tight end Kellen Winslow and left tackle Joe Thomas all made it to the Pro Bowl roster.
Thomas was a rookie, but Anderson was the big revelation, taking advantage of Brady Quinn’s holdout and Charlie Frye’s collapse in the season opener to seize the hob. He threw for 29 touchdowns last year, and dispelled a lot of the doubts that existed when he was an erratic signal-caller at Oregon State. He still has a wild streak, but he can also produce. and he’s fearless; his presence gives this team true downfield capability.
Anderson gets another target to throw to in Donte Stallworth, who came over as a free agent from New England. Stallworth is a big-play receiver, which makes Edwards more dangerous on the other side. And then there is Joe Jurevicius, who is a great “possession” receiver in the slot. If I’d worried about anything, it would be the health of Jamal Lewis, who was a gem in his first year with the Browns. Lewis gained 1304 yards last season, but he’s been known to break down, and Cleveland doesn’t have very much backing him up.
The Browns took some steps to improve the defense. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, a Pro Bowler, was acquired from Detroit and Corey Williams, a defensive end, was picked up from Green Bay. But the Browns will need Kamerion Wimbley to put pressure on the passer as he did when he was a rookie. Beau Bell, the fourth-round draft choice from UNLV, has a chance to start at linebacker. The secondary becomes the biggest question mark. And if the stop unit really stops opponents, return man Josh Cribbs, the AFC’s answer to Devin Hester, will get plenty of chances to put the Browns into great field position.
Pittsburgh might be, from top to bottom, the most solid team in the division. But one can easily visualize the Browns overtaking the Steelers. The offense is showing more imagination, and the weapons are legitimate. With a playoff berth in sight, management took a chance and added some players they thought could make a difference. The year 2007 was one of transformation; Romeo Crennel transformed himself from a coach on the chopping block to one with a brand new life. Derek Anderson transformed himself from someone seen as either “developmental” or a career “understudy” to a rising star and Pro Bowler. And Brady Quinn was transformed from someone who was the future of this franchise to a guy whose immediate career might be up in the air. Fortunately for the overall Browns picture, that is good news.
I wouldn’t mind taking a shot with Cleveland, at the +250 price in the Top Sportsbooks NFL Futures betting odds, to win the AFC North, although second place – and a wild card – is also a possibility. The defense, however, has to show up.
JAY’S PREDICTION FOR 2008:
Cleveland Browns — 11-5, 1st place, AFC North
(+250 to win division, +1600 to win AFC in the Top Sportsbooks Super Bowl betting odds)
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