This was supposed to be the year the Browns finally turned things around.
After Hue Jackson (3-36-1 as Cleveland’s coach) was fired midway through last season, the Browns won five of their final seven games behind rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Cleveland became the favorite to win the AFC North after it acquired receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in March and was a trendy pick to top its season win total and possibly make a Super Bowl run.
Then the Browns were blown out by 30 points by the Titans in the season opener, and all bets were off. After a 2-6 start, Cleveland has won four of its last five games. But, at 6-7, it will have to run the table — and beat Baltimore along the way — to salvage a push on its season win total (9).
The Browns were at 9½ before dipping to 9 and, along with the Chicago Bears, will be among the biggest winners for Las Vegas sportsbooks in the season wins market if they stay under their total.
“Those were the really popular public plays,” Westgate sportsbook director John Murray said.
The Bears (7-6), who went 12-4 last season, need to win out to top their total (9). But that appears unlikely with the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings on deck.
Murray blames the Browns’ struggles on coach Freddie Kitchens.
“I can tell you what happened to the Browns. They promoted the wrong guy to be their coach. It’s that simple,” he said. “That team, having a record like that with their talent level, it’s frankly ridiculous. It’s all because that coach doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Bettors were down on the Ravens before the season, thinking the Chargers gave the rest of the NFL a blueprint on how to beat Lamar Jackson after shutting down the Baltimore quarterback in the playoffs. But the Ravens (11-2, 8½) already have shattered their win total and are the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
“Everybody was betting the Ravens’ under wins. We’re actually going to win quite a bit on that going over,” Murray said. “Baltimore was the forgotten team. Jackson looked so bad in that playoff game, people figured Baltimore would fall back because of Cleveland.
“They forgot John Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and Kitchens is not.”
Books also will do well on the Ravens winning their division.
“We actually could not get a (division) bet on the Ravens,” CG Technology sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso said. “We lost to every team in that division except the Ravens.”
— The 49ers (11-2, 8) also have far exceeded expectations in their first winning season in six years. San Francisco, with the NFL’s No. 2 scoring offense (30.5 ppg) and No. 3 scoring defense (17.6 ppg), is one of the biggest winners for the Westgate.
“We wanted to book the Niners to do well,” Murray said. “They have to be the biggest surprise. I know (Westgate vice president of risk) Ed (Salmons) liked them in the preseason, but I don’t think anybody thought they’d be this good.”
— The Bills (9-4, 7) were the biggest mover in the preseason, climbing from 6 to 7, and it was a smart move.
A Westgate bettor will win $18,969 on a $30,350 wager on the Bills Over 6½, and Buffalo also represents one of the biggest losers for CG Technology.
— The Packers (10-3, 9) bounced back after going 6-9-1 in 2018 and dealt the Westgate a loss on their win total.
— The Seahawks (10-3, 8½) dealt CG Technology a loss, as quarterback Russell Wilson has played MVP-caliber ball.
— The Raiders (6-7, 6) have matched their win total and need one more victory to cash over tickets. They’re 7-point favorites over the Jaguars on Sunday in their final regular-season home game in Oakland.
— Seven teams are guaranteed to finish under their win totals: the Redskins (3-10, 6½), Lions (3-9-1, 6½), Giants (2-11, 6), Eagles (6-7, 10), Jaguars (4-9, 8), Bengals (1-12, 6) and Chargers (5-8, 9½), whose eight losses are all by seven points or less.
— The Dolphins (3-10, 5) started 0-7 and were outscored 163-26 in their first four games. They’re 3-3 in their last six games, but still need to run the table — including the season finale at New England — to top their total.
CG Technology, which offered adjusted win totals after the season started, would be a big winner if Miami finished 4-12.
“They bet the Dolphins over 5 and under 3 and 3½,” DiTommaso said. “It would be our best season win total if it falls 4.”
NFL regular-season win totals
Team Total Record Result (O/U/TBD)
49ers 8 11-2 Over
Bills 7 9-4 Over
Ravens 8½ 11-2 Over
Seahawks 8½ 10-3 Over
Packers 9 10-3 Over
Vikings 9 9-4 TBD
Titans 8 8-5 TBD
Raiders 6 6-7 TBD
Saints 10½ 10-3 TBD
Texans 8½ 8-5 TBD
Colts 6½ 6-7 TBD
Buccaneers 6½ 6-7 TBD
Patriots 11 10-3 TBD
Chiefs 10½ 9-4 TBD
Steelers 9 8-5 TBD
Broncos 7 5-8 TBD
Cardinals 5 3-9-1 TBD
Dolphins 5 3-10 TBD
Rams 10½ 8-5 TBD
Bears 9 7-6 TBD
Panthers 7½ 5-8 TBD
Jets 7½ 5-8 TBD
Cowboys 9 6-7 TBD
Browns 9 6-7 TBD
Redskins 6½ 3-10 Under
Lions 6½ 3-9-1 Under
Giants 6 2-11 Under
Eagles 10 6-7 Under
Jaguars 8 4-9 Under
Bengals 6 1-12 Under
Chargers 9½ 5-8 Under
Falcons 8½ 4-9 Under