It has been anything but a secret that the Cleveland Browns have been the crown princes of ineptitude in the NFL for quite some time now. But ineptitude in winning games straight up and against the spread are usually two very different things. So while the Browns have managed to win just one game straight up in their last two seasons, does their record against the spread tell a different story?
The answer to that question is a yes, but only slightly. After all, it would be almost statistically impossible to not be able to win more than a single game against the spread over a two-year period. That is even more true given the number of points that the Browns tend to receive as big underdogs throughout each season because of just how bad they have been along with how public perception of them can prompt bigger spread numbers.
Cleveland’s record against the spread hasn’t been quite as bad as their 1-31 straight up mark over the last two seasons, but it has been far from great. The team has gone 7-24-1 against the spread over that same time period, putting them at a success rate of just under 23% even when being aided by the point spread. They went 3-12-1 against the number in 2016, the year where they won a game, and 4-12 against the spread in last year’s winless campaign.
Of course, the Browns have had some difficult circumstances to overcome over the last two years that have made it difficult to cover the spread, let alone win games. Johnny Manziel’s demons forced them into looking for quarterback talent sooner than intended, which hasn’t allowed them to use as many high draft picks on the rest of the roster as they would have liked.
Now, the Browns hope that they can rely on Tyrod Taylor to be the first competent quarterback that the franchise has trotted out there in ages. Taylor is by no means spectacular, but is an upgrade over Deshone Kizer and the like, and should be a steady hand until the team is ready to hand the keys over the top overall pick Baker Mayfield.
The question for bettors now is whether Taylor and Mayfield can cover the spread more effectively than the quarterbacks who came before them. Usually backing some of the worst teams in the league can be a profitable exercise, as the public tends to shy away from them, opening up opportunities to get favorable lines either early or late. But the Browns’ futility has bucked that trend, making it difficult to justify picking spots and rolling with the Browns on occasion.
This season, things should be a little different, as Cleveland has brought in some talent both at quarterback and at skill positions around the quarterback to make their offense look decent. And with a competent looking defense, the Browns have the makings of a team that at least belongs on the field with their opponents, which could mean some covers aren’t far behind.