Cleveland at Los Angeles Pick – Cleveland Browns (+115)
Two of the top teams in the early part of the 2021 NFL season meet up when the Cleveland Browns head out West to tackle the Los Angeles Chargers. Each team has jumped out to a 3-1 start and share honors with a few others with best record in the AFC to this point in the season.
As a result, this game should take on the feel of a playoff atmosphere, as both of these teams look like they might have what it takes to meet up again in January. The action begins on Sunday afternoon at 4:05 PM Eastern Time at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers Game Preview
As a pair of longtime AFC franchises who have never been in the same division, the Chargers and Browns have met sporadically over the years. The first meeting was held in 1970, and the Chargers lead the series 17-9-1. It’s a good time to resume this rivalry for the first time since 2018, when LA won 38-14.
Cleveland has proven so far this season that their run to the playoffs a year ago was no fluke. The Browns suffered a tough road loss in the opener to Kansas City, but have bounced back with three straight wins. Last week, they went on the road and held off Minnesota in a 14-7 defensive struggle.
The Chargers welcomed a new coach this year in Brandon Staley in an attempt to push a promising young team a little further. It’s worked so far, as the Chargers have started 3-1, with the only loss at the last second to Dallas. They looked great in handing division rival Las Vegas their first loss Monday night.
Opening Odds and Line Movement for Game
This line took an interesting turn after opening with the Browns as one-point favorite. That was before people watched the Chargers win over the Raiders, and when the line returned on Tuesday, LA was the one-point choice. That spread has since risen a half point to make the Browns 1 ½ point dogs.
The over/under has been on a steady drop since it was instituted on Tuesday at 48.5. Bettors clearly believe that this one is going to be more of a defensive struggle than the oddsmakers thought. That’s why we’ve seen the over/under drop two big points down to its current level of 46.5.
The Chargers have won the last two games in this series against Cleveland (in 2017 and 2018) and seven of the last nine dating back to 2003
The Browns haven’t beaten the Chargers in California since all the way back in 1991
However, Cleveland has covered the spread as an underdog the last three times they went on the road to face LA
The Chargers win in a pick-em over Cleveland in 2018 snapped a six-game streak in the series where the Browns covered every time
The over/under in the Chargers-Browns series has been very balanced, sitting at 4-4 in the last eight meetings between the two teams
Cleveland Betting Trends
Even though they suffered their only loss of the season on the road (to Kansas City in Week 1), the Browns have covered the spread in both of their road games so far this season
Cleveland has started the year 3-1 against the spread and they’ve covered five of their last six going back to last year’s postseason
In their last seven road games, Cleveland has covered the spread 86 percent of the time
The Browns have won just one of their last nine games in contests played against the AFC West
Cleveland is one game under .500 as an underdog since the beginning of the 2019 season
They’re two games under .500 against the spread in the last three seasons when playing teams with winning records
The Browns have won and covered the spread in just 45 percent of their road games over the past three years
In games following at least two wins in a row held over the past three seasons, the Browns have covered the spread 60 percent of the time
Los Angeles Chargers Betting Trends
Each of the first four Charger games this year have gone under the projected over/under line
LA has covered the spread in three of four games to start the 2021 season
Going back to last year, the Chargers have covered the spread in 87 percent of their last eight games
The Chargers have covered their last five games that were played in the month of October
In games with point spreads of three points or less, LA has covered the spread at a rate of 37 percent since 2019
As a home favorite with a spread of three points or less, the Chargers have covered the spread three times in the last five games
At home over the past three years, the Chargers are only 7-10 against the spread
LA is one game under .500 against the spread when playing as a favorite since 2019
Free Bet and Game Prediction:
The Chargers played very well against the run on Monday night against Las Vegas, although they were helped by the fact that the Raiders were playing from behind pretty much the whole game. On the whole, their run defense has been very vulnerable and was exploited by Dallas in their only loss.
That’s music to the ears of Cleveland, who runs the ball more than any team in the league (1st in rushes per game) and with great efficiency (fifth in yards per rush.) Look for a whole lot of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in this one, as the Browns should attack the soft middle of the Chargers D consistently.
It’s a good thing that the running game is hot for the Browns, because the passing attack is decidedly not. With Odell Beckham Jr. struggling to get rolling and Jarvis Landry, Cleveland is having a hard time against opposing secondaries. LA won’t mind too much when Baker Mayfield sets up to throw.
Under new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, the Chargers are Top 10 time of possession, in part because they’re Top 5 in both third and fourth down conversions. LA is fourth in passes per game with Justin Herbert, and his mobility and decisive throws have largely kept the pass rush away.
That could change in the game against Cleveland, with Myles Garrett leading a pass rush that is currently third in sack percentage. The Chargers don’t run that often, so they’ll look to short passes to guys like Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Jared Cook to keep the Browns defense from applying pressure.
Cleveland’s defense should make the difference in this one, as they’ve been adept in all phases so far this year. The Browns won’t deviate from their run-first because they won’t really have to. We’re expecting Cleveland to show their mettle with a second straight road victory.
Spread: Cleveland +1 (+105), Los Angeles -1 (-125)
Over/Under: 47.5 (Over and under both -110)
Prediction: Cleveland Browns 21, Los Angeles Chargers 17
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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