Sports fans in Cleveland have been spoiled this year. Their basketball team won its first NBA championship, and their baseball team was so close to winning the World Series. But some things never change; the Cleveland Browns (0-8 SU, 2-6 ATS) are well on their way to a ninth straight losing season, and there’s a very real chance they’ll become just the third winless team in the modern NFL, after the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 2008 Detroit Lions.
At press time, the NFL Specials market has Cleveland priced at +500 to go 0-16, and –900 to win (or tie) at least one game this year. This looks like an easy value bet for the chalkeaters. Making fun of the Browns is a national pastime, but as they say, even a blind dawg finds a bone now and then.
Eight Isn’t Enough
Consider this Sunday’s game (1 PM. ET, FOX) at home against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. The Browns are 7.5-point underdogs, which gives them about a 27% chance of beating Dallas, based on league-wide results from the last 20 years or so. If these same two teams played this game eight times, Cleveland’s chances of losing all eight would be 73% to the power of eight or around 8%. That works out to +1150.
Keep in mind that the Cowboys (6-1 SU and ATS) are one of the best teams in the NFL through the first half of the season. The Browns have a tough schedule from here to the end, but there will be some easier matchups along the way. They’ll host the New York Giants (4-3 SU, 3-3-1 ATS) in Week 12, for example, and the San Diego Chargers (3-5 SU, 5-3 ATS) in Week 16. These aren’t gimmes by any means, but they make Cleveland’s chances of going 0-16 significantly less than 8%.
Then you have Cleveland’s willingness to start QB Josh McCown in last week’s game against the New York Jets. McCown is the one steadying force the Browns have at quarterback; they had an early lead on New York (–3 away) before losing 31-28, and McCown also got the jump on the Baltimore Ravens (–6 away) in Week 2 before losing 25-20. It remains to be seen whether McCown starts against Dallas, but the more he plays, the harder it’ll be for Cleveland to wind up 0-16 when all is said and done.