New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns betting preview: Weather having an impact on over/under

Cleveland Browns' Perrion Winfrey (97), Myles Garrett (95) and teammates react during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Two teams still mathematically in contention for the playoffs despite poor records face off in a game expected to be cold and windy on Christmas Eve in Cleveland.

The Browns have quietly won three of their last four games and are still in long-shot contention for an AFC wild card. They got a dominating defensive performance in a 13-3 win against the Ravens last Saturday. The Browns did give up 198 yards on the ground but forced two turnovers and sacked quarterback Tyler Huntley three times. Myles Garrett had 1.5 of those sacks, and his 13.5 sacks are currently third in the NFL.

With a 21-18 win against the Falcons last week, the Saints remain in the hunt for the NFC South Division title. At 5-9, most teams don’t find themselves in the middle of a division title race. However, the NFC South isn’t your normal division, and all four teams are within one game of the division title. Tight end Juwan Johnson continued his huge season in the win against the Falcons, as he had four catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Rashid Shaheed had three catches for 95 yards and a touchdown, with both guys continuing to give the Saints big plays.

Caesars Sportsbook has listed the Browns as a 2.5-point favorite.

Because of the weather and two underperforming offenses, the over/under is 32.5, the lowest in the NFL this season and one of the lowest of the past 15 years.

Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:

New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns

Time/TV: 1 p.m. ET Saturday, CBS

Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Cleveland -2.5

Money line: New Orleans +130, Cleveland -155

Over/under: 32.5

Analysis: The Saints’ offense has been inconsistent, as the team ranks 22nd in scoring (20.4 PPG). One big positive is the emergence of rookie wide receiver Chris Olave. On the season, he has 63 catches for 940 yards and three touchdowns. He is showing all the potential of being a true No. 1 wide receiver in this league, although he is questionable to play in this one with a hamstring injury. A big issue with the Saints’ defense has been the inability to take the ball away. They have only three interceptions and 10 total takeaways, both last in the NFL.

The Browns are 2-1 with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, but the offense is still figuring it out. Through those three games, he is averaging 189 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Nick Chubb is questionable with a foot injury, and that is huge for the Browns as he is third in the league with 1,252 rushing yards and tied for third with 12 rushing touchdowns. Amari Cooper (932 yards receiving and seven touchdowns) has been a very solid addition to the Browns this season.

Both teams are technically still in playoff contention, but a loss likely would eliminate either. Go with the home team in cold conditions.

Prediction: Cleveland 27, New Orleans 17


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