With Browns kickoff just 24 hours away, many of the NFL outlets have already unveiled their week 1 predictions. And according to two of the most popular football sites — CBS and ESPN — the Browns are an overwhelmingly popular choice to win.
CBS’ eight experts all picked Cleveland and its 1.5-point spread over the visiting Miami Dolphins. Dolphins fans were not so happy (tweet) about the CBS predictions when unveiled last week, as first brought to our attention by @RyinCbus.
On CBS this week, only three other teams were unanimous picks against the spread: Baltimore +7.5 at Denver (which failed miserably), New England -9.5 at Buffalo and Indianapolis -9.5 vs. Oakland. That puts the Browns in fairly prestigious company for week 1.
Then, 10 out of ESPN’s 13 analysts picked the Browns in a straight-up fashion. The three people who picked Miami: Ron Jaworski, Cris Carter and K.C. Joyner. That’s two former players (including an Ohio State legend) and “The Football Scientist” in Joyner.
When not factoring in the spread, nearly every single game had an overwhelming majority of at least 10/13ths. Only two games, in fact, did not have such a heavy favorite per ESPN: Baltimore-Denver (which failed) and Cincinnati-Chicago.
These predictions are fairly surprising to me, as is Grantland’s No. 15 ranking of the Browns in their preseason projections. Miami ranked only No. 26, which even despite their high-risk free agent signings still seems quite low to me after their solid, yet unspectacular 7-9 season a year ago. In my mind, the two teams project to be pretty even, as the 1.5-point spread indicates.