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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

NFL Week 7: Cleveland Browns @ St. Louis Rams

Cleveland Browns +7.0 @ St. Louis Rams (-130)

Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri

October 25, 2015, 12:00pm CDT

The St. Louis Rams performance to date has been somewhat enigmatic. The Rams wins this year are the result of a stolen week 1 contest versus the Seattle Seahawks (which featured 34 points against what was expected to be the premier defense in the league) and the solid beating put on the then-undefeated Arizona Cardinals at home in week 4. However, St. Louis was spanked by the lowly Washington Redskins in week 2...go figure. Even if we discount the Rams' 2-3 absolute record due to strength of schedule considerations (i.e. St. Louis has faced the Cardinals, Packers, Seahawks and Steelers already), they are still 2-3 versus the betting line -- including against the spread losses in both of the instances they were cast as the favorites. Today's contest requires St. Louis supporters to lay a full TD rather than the 1.5 versus Pittsburgh or the 3.0 at Washington. Recent history suggests this is a tough spot for the Rams.

Cleveland too has but two straight up wins, however the Browns are a formidable 4-2 versus the number. For the most part this season, Cleveland has demonstrated a knack for staying in games. Sure the Browns lost by three touchdowns at the New York Jets in week 1 (with Johnny Football under Center for the then-injured Josh McCown), but Cleveland has not lost by more than a touchdown since. In fact, a mere field goal has separated winner from loser in each of the Browns last three contests.

Cleveland's ability to hang in there likely owes to the above-average proficiency of QB Josh McCown, who ranks #17 by Total QBR (and DYAR) and helps elevate the Browns passing offense to #14 by DVOA. We expect McCown to to keep his team in the hunt again Sunday against Nick Foles and the Rams, who rank #30 by these same measures.

Our power rankings-based work suggests the Rams (at home) are about 4 points better than the Browns today. Each of the four independent approaches that comprise our power rankings composite individually highlights substantial value to Cleveland backers. Similarly, two of the three simulation/computer prediction models we employ point to a Browns cover (with about 2-4 points to spare). Moreover, a probit regression model that incorporates our power rankings work, the simulation models as well as several sentiment factors likewise ascribes a low probability to a home team cover. Thus, the expectation for Cleveland to continue their three game hot streak against the spread is well supported, quantitatively.

Happy betting!!

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