Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns - 8/18/16 NFL Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Atlanta Falcons (8-8) at Cleveland Browns (3-13)
NFL Football: Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 8:00 pm (FirstEnergy Stadium)
The Line: Cleveland Browns -2.5 -- Over/Under: 37 See the Latest Odds
The Atlanta Falcons travel to FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns in week 2 preseason action.
The Atlanta Falcons scored 13 unanswered points going into halftime, followed by rookie J.D. McKissic’s 101 yard kickoff return to star the second half, the Falcons were up 20-3, a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Matt Ryan didn’t look good at all. Ryan had no completions, no first downs, nothing but a spot on the sideline after a couple of series until backup Matt Schaub entered the game. Schaub, in his second stint with Atlanta, came in and made an immediate impact throwing for 179 yards on 10-of-15 passing, with 118 of those yards going to Aldrick Robinson. Robinson and Schaub have had a history though as both were in the Ravens training camp last season. There wasn’t much else to speak of as the Falcons only generated 79 yards on 28 attempts rushing, which comes out to a measly 2.8 yards per rush. However a win is a win for the Falcons as they look to progress in their remaining position battles the rest of the way and their next stop is through the Pound in Cleveland.
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The Cleveland Browns were in the mix for most of the game before conceding two 4th-quarter safeties to drop a 17-11 decision to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Head coach Hue Jackson and newly acquired starting QB Robert Griffin III’s first game with their new team wasn’t as they had hoped but there were still signs of life from this Cleveland squad. RG3 went 4-8 for 67 yards and an interception, however the drive started with a 48-yard completion to quarterback turned receiver Terrelle Pryor, who looks to get a lot of reps this preseason as Cleveland’s go-to wideout with Josh Gordon, Andrew Hawkins and first-round draft pick Corey Coleman all out due to injury, as well as first-year Brown Rannell Hall who also left in the third quarter due to an ankle injury. Cleveland’s 4.5 yards per carry looks impressive at first until you dig deeper and find it was only 77 yards on 17 attempts contributing to a miniscule 172 yards of total offense. Things need to improve in Cleveland if they want to move out of the AFC North basement for the first time in 5 years, however it’s still early and we have to wait until the regular season starts to see if Browns fans have to hit the panic button again.
Atlanta is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Thursday games, and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 overall while the under is 22-5-1 in their last 28 games overall. Cleveland is also 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Thursday games and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 overall, while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 games overall.
All signs point to this game going under the total, as Cleveland doesn’t look like they can score and neither can Atlanta’s first unit. However, Atlanta’s second unit did have some success last week and with Schaub emerging as a competitor for Matt Ryan’s starting spot, I think he delivers another solid performance here.
I’ll back the under, and I’d also sprinkle something on the Falcons to win outright, as I have no idea why Cleveland is favored here.