Posted on September 9, 2019, by Travis Pulver
With how the season ended for the Cleveland Browns last year, there were plenty of reasons for fans and bettors to be excited about the 2019 season. However, after the offseason, with the free-agent haul and trades they executed, it was not hard to get really excited about the Browns this season—and it showed with how people approached betting on the Browns.
Prior to the start of the season, many sportsbooks reported taking more bets on the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl than any other team. But after Sunday’s debacle against the Tennessee Titans, those people are probably not feeling too good about those bets.
The Browns got off to a good start with a touchdown on their opening drive of the game. But then the offense disappeared for the rest of the half. They struggled to move the ball, earning just five first downs for the rest of the half, three of them on the last drive.
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Despite how bad the offense performed, they were only down 12-6 at the break. So, the game was still within reach. They got within two, 15-13, after Baker Mayfield connected with David Njoku on a three-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter.
But then it all fell apart after that.
Tennessee responded to the Browns touchdown with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Derrick Henry. After intercepting Mayfield on the Browns next drive, they scored again. Then another Mayfield interception set the Titans up on a short field again.
Four plays later, Delanie Walker catches a seven-yard touchdown pass to make the score 36-13 with nine minutes left to play. Malcolm Butler wrapped up the scoring with a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown to make the final 43-13, Titans.
Mayfield (25 of 38 attempts for 285 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions) struggled to get on track with his receivers throughout the game. It didn’t help, of course, that he was often on the run. Tennessee sacked him times on the day, one of which came in the end zone for a safety. Mayfield appeared to be injured on the play but later said he was fine.
The team also committed 18 penalties costing them 182 yards, the most they have had in a single game since 1951.
For the first time in years, Browns fans were excited about the season opener and believed their team could win. Instead, they saw the league’s longest losing streak in season openers extended to 15 games; the Browns are 1-19-1 in openers since 1999.
So—was betting on them a mistake? Is it going to be more of the same for the Browns? Were fans expecting way too much way too soon?
As bad as they did play, it is way too soon to jump ship on the Browns. If last year showed fans anything, Mayfield and the Browns are at their best when they are doubted and counted out. Mayfield commented on the expected backlash the team would get after the game:
“Everyone is going to throw us in the trash. And I think that’s good. … I know how we’re going to react.”
If you shouldn’t jump ship, does that mean you should jump on it, then?
Eh—probably not. Teams that are created in an offseason via free agency and trades rarely, if ever, look as good on the field as they do on paper. They still might win the division and/or make the playoffs, but it is not going to be as easy as fans thought.