I don't really know the ins and outs about how sports betting and oddsmakers work, and I'm not going to pretend to. But I do know that Vegas oddsmakers are having a tough go at deciding the odds for this year's Cleveland Browns. And they have a reason to.
For the first time in a very long time, the Browns are a legit threat -- not just in their division, but in the entire league. The AFC North has always been known as one of the toughest divisions in football, but things are even starting to take a turn on that front. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the offseason front-runner almost always, has a declining quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger (who, in a state of decline, is still better than over half of the quarterbacks in the NFL), and the Baltimore Ravens are basically in a wait-and-see mode, with a second-year QB in Lamar Jackson, who has a ton of work to do and a defense that just lost three gigantic playmakers in CJ Mosley, Eric Weddle, and Terrell Suggs. And the Cincinnati Bengals are the Bengals. No worries there.
Basically I'm saying that things aren't like they used to be. The Browns got a facelift last season, drafting star QB Baker Mayfield, having him shock the world and turn them into a potential threat pretty much on his own. Add the trade of all trades from this offseason (of course I'm talking about Odell Beckham Jr.), and this team looks great on paper. The haters are furious. Mayfield didn't even start the entire season (also didn't have OBJ) and still threw for 27 touchdowns.
Plenty of people are skeptical, and they have a reason to be. The Browns haven't won a playoff game in seventeen years, haven't had a legit QB since about then as well, and haven't been all-around a competitive threat for as long as I can remember. I've made so many "Omg we get three bye weeks since we play the Browns twice" jokes over the years, but good times come to an end, and that time is now. This is one of the teams that I'd like to see do well for once.
Dare I say it? Go Browns?
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