Playing in Pittsburgh has been kryptonite for Cleveland, which lost its 20th consecutive regular-season road game to the Steelers in Week 2.
But the Browns have looked downright super in two home games, beating the Bengals 24-3 in their season opener and whipping the Titans 27-3 last week.
Pro sports bettor Jeff Whitelaw and Wizardraceandsports.com handicapper “Dr. Alan” Dumond made Cleveland their best bet this weekend, and the Westgate SuperBook reported sharp action on the Browns.
Cleveland is a 2½-point home favorite over the Ravens, who lost 22-19 in overtime to the Colts last week.
“Baltimore has a lot of injuries. They’re getting a few of the guys back, but Cleveland looks to have one of the best defenses in the NFL and I like their offensive line,” Whitelaw said. “I just think they’re the better team of the two, and laying less than a field goal is definitely cheap.
“Baltimore couldn’t even win at home last week. Now you’re asking them to go on the road and win against one of the best defenses in football.”
The Browns have allowed only 10.7 points per game this season, and that average includes two defensive scores by the Steelers.
“The Browns have the the NFL’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense, and they have not allowed a TD in two home games thus far,” Dumond said. “They have their bye week after this division game, so they should be highly motivated to win and head into their bye with positive momentum.”
Here are some other weekend best bets and sharp plays reported by sportsbooks:
TEXANS (+3) over Steelers
GambLou.com handicapper Lou Finocchiaro, who leads the Review-Journal NFL Challenge with a 10-4-1 record against the spread, likes Houston to end Pittsburgh’s two-game winning streak.
“The Steelers face a Texans squad full of confidence after defeating division rival Jacksonville last week,” he said. “The Texans look to win at home for the first time this year. The Steelers are in a difficult spot as this is their second road game in a row, and next week they face division rival Baltimore in the ’Burgh.”
Other NFL sharp plays
Another sharp bet placed at the SuperBook this week was on the Vikings -3 over the Panthers, who have lost several defensive starters to injury.
The line inched up to 3½ and hit 4 on Wednesday when rookie quarterback Bryce Young was a full participant in practice.
“They play to a higher power rating with (veteran QB) Andy Dalton than they do with Bryce Young,” SuperBook oddsmaker Ed Salmons said.
South Point reported sharp action on the Patriots (+7) over the Cowboys (line now 6½).
Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading Craig Mucklow reported sharp action on the Bills -2½ over the Dolphins, Rams-Colts over (now 46) and Ravens-Browns under (now 40½).
“But the sharpest of the sharps, who I really respect, are on Washington-Arizona under 69 in college on Saturday,” Mucklow said.
That number has dropped to 65½.
OREGON STATE (-4) over Utah
Salmons bet the Beavers -1½ over the Utes when the line opened, but the spread has shot up as high as 4½ for Friday’s matchup of top 25 teams.
“That Utah team is a fraud. They’re gonna get exposed this week,” he said. “They’ve been winning with mirrors, basically playing defense and hoping the other team turns it over.”
Utah scored on a pick-six on the first play of the game in last week’s 14-7 win over UCLA, while Oregon State lost a 38-35 shootout at Washington State.
“Oregon State will have zero problems controlling Utah’s offense,” Salmons said.
COLORADO (+22) over Southern California
Salmons also bet on the Buffaloes +24 over the Trojans when the line opened as sharp money caused the number to drop.
“It was just way too much of an adjustment based on what Colorado did last week (in a 42-6 loss at Oregon),” Salmons said. “USC has a great offense, but they certainly give up a lot of points. If you can score 24 points, you can cover.”
TEXAS TECH (-8½) over Houston
Paul Stone, a Texas-based handicapper, likes Texas Tech (1-3) to rebound at home against Houston without starting quarterback Tyler Shough, who suffered a broken left fibula in Saturday’s loss at West Virginia.
“(Backup quarterback) Behren Morton started four games last year and is a talented player in his own right,” said Stone (@PaulStoneSports). “All of the Red Raiders’ defeats have come down to the final seconds, and I see them taking their frustrations out on a below-average Houston team.”