Packers vs. Browns line, prediction: Cleveland can cover

Three of VSiN’s NFL experts came to the same conclusion for Saturday’s Browns-Packers game. 

Burke: The Browns put everything that they had into the game against the Raiders on Monday and lost in demoralizing fashion with a last-second field goal from Las Vegas’ Daniel Carlson that put their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. Are they going to be able to bring the effort required to hang with the Packers on Saturday? 

The statistical profiles for the two teams are really interesting. The Browns are +0.4 yards per play and the Packers are just +0.5 ypp, which is a big indicator for a lot of bettors out there. The Browns, however, have scored points on only 33.6 percent of their possessions. Both teams have had kicking issues, but the bigger problem is that the Browns are 21st in third-down conversion rate and just 10-of-24 on fourth down. The Packers are 11-of-18 on fourth down and have a top-10 offense on third down. 

Aaron Rodgers is clearly a lot better than Baker Mayfield, but the Packers have only four fewer turnovers than Cleveland. They have 2.46 points per drive, though, compared to 1.93 for the Browns. Green Bay’s defense has allowed more points per drive than Cleveland’s. 

Baker Mayfield looks likely to return against the Packers.
AP

One team executes in big spots and the other one struggles to do that. That being said, this spread is a big number at 7.5. The Browns are still trying to get everybody cleared through COVID protocols and may be without Myles Garrett, but the Packers tend to win a lot of close games and don’t have a statistical profile that supports winning a lot of games in blowout fashion. 

Green Bay needs to win to stay in the driver’s seat for NFC home-field advantage. The Browns need to win for the sake of their playoff hopes. By no means do I expect Cleveland to win, but a cover of 7.5 wouldn’t be a stunning development. It may not be a bad idea to tease Green Bay down with another side and take Cleveland + 7.5, as this game could very well fall in between 1.5 and 7.5. 

Tuley: The key is the Browns’ defense, which is ranked fifth (321.7 yards allowed per game). It should be able to contain Rodgers and company enough to stay within a field goal. I’m hoping the Browns pound the Packers defense with Nick Chubb to keep the ball away from Rodgers and shorten the game (which would make those 7.5 points even more valuable). 

Nick Chubb
Nick Chubb
AP

Reynolds: The Packers were the first team to punch their playoff ticket and have already clinched the NFC North. Most power raters put Green Bay as the current No. 1 team in the NFL. However, Green Bay has lived right all season long, both SU and ATS. 

It looks as if Mayfield will be a go. More important, though, is that head coach Kevin Stefanski should be back. Cleveland certainly needs him, as he is the play-caller. 

Cleveland was without the services of 10 starters on Monday, but at least some of them should be back here. Green Bay has been living dangerously and is going to get got in one of these late-season games and this looks like the prime candidate for that against a Browns team with its backs against the wall.