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Struggling Broncos, Browns Match Up On TNF

Neither the Browns (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) nor Broncos (3-3, 3-3) have much time to right the ship after disappointing losses last week. Denver has won eight of the last nine meetings and is 11-3 SU and ATS in its last 14 appearances on Thursday Night Football.

Denver Broncos vs Cleveland Browns
  • Date/Time: October 21, 8:20 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium
  • TV Coverage: Fox, NFL Network
  • Opening Odds: Browns -6 | O/U 44.5 (Line History)
  • Broncos vs Browns Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Early bettors were lining up to fade the Browns following last week’s blowout loss to Arizona when Cleveland lost several more offensive starters to injury. The point spread had dropped to 3.5 points by the time of writing, while support for the UNDER had driven the total down to 42.5.

Denver News & Notes

After allowing just 26 points in their first three games, the Broncos defense has come back to earth in a big way during an 0-3 SU and ATS skid that dropped Denver back to .500. The Broncos have allowed an average of 28 points during the losing streak, and their star-studded secondary has been burned for three passing touchdowns of 48 yards or more.

Not that the offense has been much better. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater turned the ball over three times in Sunday’s 34-24 loss to the Raiders when Denver had just 10 points through the first three quarters before making the score a bit more respectable with a pair of late touchdowns. Bridgewater also hurt his foot in the loss, although he’s expected to suit up against Cleveland.

For whatever reason, Denver has excelled recently on a short week, going 11-3 SU and ATS in its last 14 Thursday contests. The Broncos have also covered the spread in each of their last three prime-time outings and have gone UNDER the total in six of their last seven under the lights.

Cleveland News & Notes

The timing couldn’t be worse for Cleveland to have a short week. Injuries have absolutely decimated the Browns, especially on offense, and it wasn’t clear at the time of writing how many of their regulars would be available to suit up against the Broncos.

Already without star running back Nick Chubb and two offensive tackles going into last week’s showdown with undefeated Arizona, Cleveland then lost the other part of its dynamic backfield when Kareem Hunt suffered a calf injury that will likely sideline him for a month.

Making matters worse, quarterback Baker Mayfield dislocated his shoulder twice against Arizona and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. left the game in the first half after suffering a shoulder injury.

Mayfield told reporters after the loss to Arizona that he “absolutely” expects to suit up against Denver, but coach Kevin Stefanski wasn’t as convinced and may opt to be conservative with the former Heisman Trophy winner. If Mayfield can’t play on Thursday, former Broncos quarterback Case Keenum would make his first start since 2019.

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How Denver Will Cover

Denver’s issues in the secondary shouldn’t be as costly against a Cleveland team that is having trouble creating big plays in the passing game. If the Broncos’ fifth-ranked rush defense can contain the Browns’ running attack, Denver should be live for the upset. 

How Cleveland Will Cover

Getting at least a couple of their top offensive players in the lineup would be a big help, but the Browns defense needs to play a lot better as well. Fortunately, Cleveland hasn’t had much difficulty shutting down mediocre attacks this season, limiting the Texans, Bears and Vikings to an average of 13.3 points.

Computer Pick: Cleveland -3.5

Looking for more NFL Week 7 predictions? Check out our NFL Computer Picks page to see the full list of games for this week.

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Shark Bites
  • Denver is 0-3 SU and ATS in its last 3 games.
  • Cleveland is 12-2 SU in its last 14 home games as a favorite.
  • Denver is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games vs Cleveland.