The Atlanta Falcons (1-2 SU, 3-0 ATS) will try to put together consecutive wins for the first time this season when they host the Cleveland Browns (2-1, 2-1) on Sunday as small home underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The Falcons are one of just three teams at 3-0 against the spread so far this season, but they have been notoriously bad at home lately, dropping nine of their last 10 straight up at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Browns vs Falcons Opening Odds
This is now a near pick’em matchup at most books with Atlanta playing much better than expected at 3-0 ATS and Cleveland heading to the road for the second time this year.
The Browns edged the Carolina Panthers 26-24 as 1.5-point road underdogs in their season opener and then have split a pair at home, winning 29-17 over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Week 3 Thursday Night Football matchup.
They are down to 1-point road favorites here while the total is up to 49.5 in what could be a high-scoring affair. The OVER is on a 4-0 run for the Falcons in their last four regular-season games.
Cleveland’s Running Game Powers Offense To Win Over Pittsburgh
Running back Nick Chubb has been the best rusher in the NFL through the first three games, totaling 341 yards on the ground on 62 carries (5.5 average) and four touchdowns.
Chubb was outstanding for the Browns against the Steelers in last week’s victory, rushing for 113 yards on 23 carries, including a 36-yard run. As long as he keeps running like that, Cleveland will be tough to beat.
The success of the rushing attack has also helped open up the passing game for quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
With defensive end Myles Garrett involved in a car accident earlier in the week and his status still yet to be determined, the offense may need to carry Cleveland in this spot and keep the defense off the field as much as possible.
Atlanta Grinds Out First Victory Behind Another Competitive Effort
Despite losing two of their first three games, the Falcons have been one of the league’s pleasant surprises. They have not been out of any game, even when they trailed the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams 28-3 in Week 2.
Last Sunday at Seattle, Atlanta rode running back Cordarrelle Patterson, who rushed for 141 yards on 17 carries and scored a touchdown on a 17-yard run. Quarterback Marcus Mariota did not play great with 229 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception, but he performed well enough to keep Atlanta in the game as well.
Mariota seems to be getting more comfortable with his receivers, and they may need to step up again for another win.
Browns: Keys To Victory
Cleveland needs to be patient and continue to use the running game to its advantage. This team could easily be 3-0 right now and would be if Chubb had just stayed inbounds and ran the clock in Week 2’s 31-30 home loss to the New York Jets.
Chubb knows he made a mistake and redeemed himself last week. As long as he continues to run hard and allows Brissett to continue doing what he does best as a game manager, the Browns should be able to improve to 3-1 and cover the spread in the process.
Falcons: Keys To Victory
Sooner or later, Mariota is going to need to play better and win a game for Atlanta. He has been OK through the first three games but has the potential to play at a higher level.
Cleveland has shown some vulnerability with its pass defense, and Pittsburgh failed to follow up a good first half through the air with a similar or better effort in the second last week.
That kept the Steelers from winning, and the Falcons would be wise to learn from that if they are going to stay in this game and potentially pull off the small home upset.
NFL Computer Pick: Falcons +1.5
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