The Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos will get Week 7 in the NFL started when these two clubs square off tonight during "Thursday Night Football." Both of these teams are dealing with injuries on a short week, but the Browns are particularly banged up at the moment. For this matchup, they will be without starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, who aggravated a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and will be held out in place of veteran Case Keenum. That change under center certainly changes how the folks in the betting community will look at this head-to-head.
That's where we'll spend our main focus. We'll specifically be looking at the different betting angles that this game has to offer. Along with the spread and total, we'll also take a look at a number of player props and hand in our picks for how we see this prime-time matchup unfolding.
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
This spread originally opened at Browns -6 but has naturally fallen quite a bit since the injury bug took a bite out of Cleveland's depth chart. On Wednesday, this number stood a Browns -2, which comes after the news that Mayfield would be sidelined for Case Keenum. Given all of Cleveland's other injuries, it wouldn't be a surprise to see this fall to a pick'em before kickoff.
The pick: Broncos +2. Even before Mayfield was officially ruled out, I was surprised that this spread didn't lean in Denver's favor simply due to the onslaught of injuries Cleveland was facing (20 players on the initial injury report). Teddy Bridgewater -- who is battling an foot injury but is expected to play -- uncharacteristically had three interceptions last week against the Raiders and I expect him to be more efficient in this matchup. Cleveland's defense will likely keep the Browns competitive, but they have recently not played well at home, owning a 1-4 ATS mark in their last five home games. I liked getting a field goal bump when I could get it with Denver, but I'll settle for +2 here.
Key trend: Broncos are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 Thursday games.
As you'd expect, this total has sunk in the days leading up to this matchup. After opening at 44.5, the total now sits at 41 on the eve of this matchup, which is largely driven by the loss of Mayfield. Coming out of Sunday, the total stood at 43 and has dropped two points since his status began to crystalize.
The pick: Over 41. Probably smart to fade the total here with a bunch of unknowns, particularly with Keenum in for the Browns. The veteran does have a strong history with Kevin Stefanski, who was his quarterbacks coach during their shared time in Minnesota. During that 2017 season, Keenum completed 67.6% of his passes while averaging 236.5 passing yards per game with 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. If he recreates that type of performance, we could be looking at the Over here, especially with it sitting in the low 40s.
Key trend: Over is 4-1 in Browns last five home games.
Teddy Bridgewater props
- Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over +120, Under -150)
- Passing yards: 229.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
- Passing attempts: 31.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
- Longest pass completion: 36.5 (Over -110, Under -120)
- Completions: 19.5 (Over -125, Under -105)
- Interceptions: 0.5 (Over -105, Under -125)
The Browns boast one of the better defenses in the NFL, so it could be rough sledding for Bridgewater. That said, one area where there has been a crack in the foundation for Cleveland is allowing passing touchdowns. Entering Week 7, the Browns have allowed 14 passing scores this season, tied for third-most in the league. Bridgewater has thrown for multiple touchdowns in four of his six games played this year, including three last week against Las Vegas.
Case Keenum props
- Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over +150, Under -180)
- Passing yards: 220.5 (Over -120, Under -110)
- Passing attempts: 31.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
- Completions: 19.5 (Over +100, Under -130)
It's hard to look back to 2017 at Keenum's time under Stefanski as any sort of indicator of what could happen on Thursday. I would lean toward the Under on Keenum's 31.5 passing attempts for this matchup. I'm not sure if Stefanski will completely put the ball in his hands to try and win the game even with D'Ernest Johnson slated to start at running back. Mayfield had only gone over this prop twice this season, so it's hard to imagine the Browns allowed Keenum to drop back more than 30 times against a defense that is allowing an NFL-best 56.7 completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks.
Player props to consider
Noah Fant total receptions: Over 3.5 (-150). Fant has seen a steady target share from Bridgewater and has gone over this number in four of his six games played this season.
Courtland Sutton total receiving yards: Over 67.5 (-115). Sutton has seen 25 targets over the last two games, which is plenty of volume to get us over this number even if he is going against a Browns defense that is allowing just 220.7 passing yards per game.
Melvin Gordon total rushing yards: Over 39.5 (-110). Tough matchup in the Browns (87 rush yards per game this year), but Gordon still has a solid role in this backfield and could see even more work if the Denver staff decides to limit Bridgewater's exposure with an injured foot. Gordon has also topped this number in all but two games this year.