NFL (2 Picks)
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1:00pm est: Browns +1.5 (3 Units)
This is a talented Cleveland roster that matches up well against the Bengals. They ranked 5th in passing yards allowed per game in 2022 but really struggled against the run. They fired their defensive coordinator and brought in one of the sharpest defensive minds in football, Jim Schwartz. Schwartz was the DC for the Eagles when they won their Super bowl. They addressed their run defense on the first day of free agency, signing Dalvin Tomlinson from Minnesota. He's a load of a defensive tackle.
The Browns defensive roster is full of talent. The lack of production from that talent is why they moved on from their former DC. They also signed edge rusher Za'Darius Smith to play opposite Myles Garrett. He's had double digit sacks in each of his last 3 full seasons. They form one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. They go up against a Bengals offensive line that ranked 30th in pass blocking per PFF in 2022. The Bengals did go out and sign Orlando Brown but he's still allowed 10 sacks across the last 2 seasons. Joe Burrow's also dealing with a calf injury, he won't be as mobile.
Offensively this Browns team is bound for success with one of the best offensive lines and rushing attacks in the NFL. Deshaun Watson was also full go throughout camp and given plenty of time to find his grove. Even if he's not the same caliber QB he was in Houston, this offense will be pretty darn good. They're also deeper at receiver this year after acquiring former 2nd round pick Elijah Moore from the Jets. It gives Cleveland a legitimate #2 outside of Amari Cooper.
The strength of the Bengals defense is it's defensive line but again, Cleveland has one of if not the best offensive line in football. Joe Burrow and the Bengals have really struggled against Cleveland in the past and that's largely been with a revolving door at QB for CLE. Burrow himself is just 1-4 against the Browns in his career and CIN is 2-8 L10 against CLE.
4:25pm est: Packers +1.5 (3 Units)
Aaron Rodgers may not be in town any longer but you don't win 8 straight games against a division opponent from your QB alone. The Packers haven't lost to CHI since HC Matt LaFleur came to town, sporting a perfect 8-0 record and most importantly, 8-0 ATS. You also don't trade a QB like Aaron Rodgers when you have a team capable of winning a Superbowl if you aren't confident in his replacement.
The Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round back in 2020. He's had 3 years to sit back and learn from one of the greatest QB's to ever do it and on top of that he's played in the same system the entire time. He didn't play many snaps in 2022 but he looked sharp when he did. Completing 14 of 21 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. He looked in command and comfortable in the offense.
The Bears defense allowed 7.98 yards per pass attempt in 2022, which ranked dead last. They also allowed the 2nd most rushing yards per game. That all adds up to the worst defense in the NFL allowing 27.2 points per game. Green Bay has scored at least 24 points in each of it's last 6 games against the Bears.
Defensively the Packers have been a pretty average bunch for a while. They have however held the Bears to less than 20 points in 6 of their 8 games since LaFleur took over. In two games last season, Fields combined to throw for 324 yards with 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The addition of DJ Moore should certainly help Justin Fields but he's struggled as a passer in the NFL. He hasn't shown the ability to sit in a pocket and make consistent accurate throws down the field and that's what it takes to win in the NFL.