On Sunday, the Detroit Lions have a great chance at closing the gap on the NFC North division leaders the Minnesota Vikings by defeating the winless Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. The Lions are coming off a big Monday Night Football victory over the Packers and are making a run at the division lead. The Lions are also positioning themselves as a serious contender for one of the NFC’s Wild Card spots. Cleveland is hoping to win their first game of the season and to slow down the Lions offense. Kickoff is at 1 PM ET.
This is the first time these two teams have played since 2013, which Detroit won 31-17. The Lions have won the last 3 games against the Browns and are a heavy favorite coming into this weekend’s matchup.
Cleveland (0-8) is coming off a loss to another NFC North team – the Vikings. The Browns were beat up 33-16 and will come limping into this game with the hopes of a big upset. Cleveland is giving 2nd round pick DeShone Kizer another chance to be the franchise quarterback as he played the entire game against the Vikings last weekend. Although he didn’t put up numbers to boast about, he didn’t have any turnovers against a top tier defense.
The Lions (4-4) are the only team in the division to not have any quarterback problems. Additionally, they have a very favorable schedule for the second half of the season. Not only are they likely to open up some space in the Wild Card race, but they also have a great chance of taking the division. Detroit doesn’t play a team with a winning record in the second half of the season other than one more game against the Vikings. Coach Caldwell knows not to overlook the Browns and he has his team focused on the task at hand – beat the teams you are supposed to beat and that starts with Cleveland.
The Over/Under opened at 44 points and it has come down slightly to 43.5 total points. The spread opened with Detroit favored by 9.5 points. It is currently sitting at 10.5 points at most books. However, there are several books that are listing the Lions at -12 points. Since we are taking the Lions to cover the spread, look for the lowest line possible.
The Browns have a stingy run defense that allows less than 3 yards per carry. However, that doesn’t apply to the Lions as they are a pass heavy team led by Matthew Stafford who already has 2,212 passing yards and 14 touchdown throws on the season. The Browns are giving up 242 passing yards per game and I expect Stafford to light up Cleveland’s secondary in this game especially with cornerback Jason McCourty likely to miss this game.
Detroit has lost their last 3 home games, but I expect them to end that streak this weekend. Their biggest issue is not scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they’re ranked 27th at just 45.83 percent. I think that will change this weekend as the Browns allow opposing quarterbacks to complete their passes at a 68.8 percentage. Additionally, they’ve given up 16 passing touchdowns on the season. This bodes well for the Lions and I expect them to throw more down in the red zone than try to find a goal line back who doesn’t fumble.
The Browns are only averaging 14.9 points per game and 317 total yards per game. The Lions will get after Kizer with their aggressive defense and shut down Cleveland’s run game as Detroit only allows 79.9 yards per game. Look for an opportunistic defense to get at least 3 sacks and one turnover this weekend.
Cleveland is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games and 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games. Detroit is 4-1 ATS this season when the total is between 42.5 and 45 points. They’re also 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games during November and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games during the Weeks of 10 through 13.
I expect Matthew Stafford to lead the Lions to another victory as they put together a winning streak. Stafford should eclipse the 300 yard mark and 2 touchdowns this weekend. Neither team will be able to succeed on the ground, which will put extra pressure on Kizer. Look for the Lions defense to harass him all day as Detroit wins this game 31-14.