Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns have already proven they are title contenders this year. After nearly beating the two-time reigning AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round last season, Cleveland then almost beat them again in the first game of the 2021 campaign.
Their play in those contests proved they can compete with the best of the best, which means they could truly have a special season this year, something Cleveland fans haven’t seen much of since they got their team back in 1999.
In fact, Mayfield and company can make franchise history in Week 2 before even taking the field against the Houston Texans.
Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns are heavy favorites over the Houston Texans
The Texans won big in Week 1. But don’t let that performance fool you; they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are supposed to be competing with them for the “worst team in the league” title this year.
Houston is a bad team.
So, on Sunday, when the Texans travel to Cleveland to face the Browns — who barely lost to the reigning AFC champion Chiefs, 33-29, in Week 1 — they are not expected to win.
Vegas certainly doesn’t think they have a chance, either.
So, essentially, Cleveland is expected to win big, and it could very well make franchise history before even taking the field on Sunday.
Cleveland can make history before stepping on the field in Week 2
Everyone expects the Browns to win rather handedly in Week 2, and because of this, they could accomplish something they haven’t done since the franchise made its return to the NFL in 1999.
According to a tweet from ESPN’s Field Yates, if a -12.5 line holds for the Browns until the start of the game, it will be the most amount of points Cleveland has been favored to win by since its return.
In case you don’t remember, former Browns owner Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore in 1996, where it became the Ravens. The NFL, however, worked with the city of Cleveland, and it got its team back in 1999. The city was also able to keep the franchise records and team name.
Since that 1999 season, though, the Browns have been horrible. Prior to the 2020 campaign, they had only been to the playoffs once. The franchise had also only recorded two winning seasons. But with Cleveland now considered to be one of the best teams in the NFL, Mayfield and his teammates can go into the game already making history.
Will the Cleveland Browns cover against the Houston Texans?
So, if the -13 (or -12.5) line holds, will the Browns be able to cover?
They have an excellent chance to do just that.
Pro Football Focus has the Texans’ defense ranked as one of the worst in the NFL this season, and it now must face an explosive Browns offense. Cleveland not only scored 29 points against the Chiefs in Week 1, but many of its stars played well. Baker Mayfield threw for 321 yards, and Nick Chubb ran for 83 and two touchdowns. The Browns have Kareem Hunt as well, another dangerous weapon in the backfield, and various players who are effective in the passing game.
The Texans’ offense, on the other hand, is one of the league’s worst this season, as it’s led by Tyrod Taylor instead of Deshaun Watson. Cleveland also has some elite players on the defensive side of the ball in Myles Garrett, Anthony Walker, Denzel Ward, and others. So, it could be a long day for Taylor and company.
Sure, Houston had a nice game in Week 1 against the Jaguars, but the Browns’ various playmakers and the Texans’ long list of weaknesses could make for a blowout in Cleveland’s favor on Sunday.
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Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference