The Seahawks (4-1) still have Bobby Wagner making plays all over the field, but their defense is otherwise weakened from previous seasons. That could give Mayfield some openings to take shots downfield to Odell Beckham Jr., but Seattle’s offense is strong enough to keep up with him, even on the road.
Russell Wilson is a road warrior and is playing lights out, mostly avoiding big sacks as well as turnovers. The Seahawks also can stay committed to the run in this game to keep pressure off the QB. Their defense will give up its share of big pass plays to Baker Mayfield, but it also can disrupt the Browns' offense in key situations with Jadeveon Clowney.
I would bet my mortgage on this game. Why are the Seahawks (4-1), who are coming off 10 days rest, only laying 1.5 points to the Browns (2-3)? Cleveland has been awful, is dealing with a short week, and has a quarterback with four touchdown passes and eight interceptions? Easy play.
Cleveland’s run defense looked woeful against San Fran, and it won’t get a whole lot easier against the Seahawks, who attempt the fourth-most rushes per game. Seattle also has decisive advantages at quarterback and head coach and has a huge rest advantage, having played Thursday while the Browns played Monday.
Seattle has the benefit of some extra rest, having played last Thursday at home, whereas Cleveland is coming off a short week after a blowout loss to the 49ers on Monday night in San Francisco. Expect the Seahawks to deploy some well-designed blitzes, forcing Baker Mayfield into a few poor decisions. The Seahawks have a plus-three turnover differential, while the Browns have a minus-three turnover margin.
Cleveland has been either bad or mediocre in four of five games. Seattle is clearly the better team in this matchup and it’s not really close. It’s a little strange how low the spread is.
The up-and-down Browns were definitely down on Monday night as the 49ers rode roughshod over them. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw two interceptions, got sacked four times and was taunted by both Richard Sherman and Nick Bosa. Mayfield and Browns have a lot of growing up to do, and now face the rested Seahawks, who are growing into an NFC West power again but have injury concerns.
Remember what happened after the Browns' clunker against the Rams on primetime in Week 3? They were a seven-point underdog at the Ravens, and I thought that line was inflated, so I made it my best bet that week. Sure enough, Cleveland won by 15. Take advantage of another overreaction line here, as the Browns will win this game outright.
Russell Wilson can’t carry the Seahawks on his back every week. Seattle nearly lost at home in Week 5 when the quarterback was close to perfect. The Seahawks might not be able to pressure Baker Mayfield the way Cleveland’s opponents have done in their three losses.
Seattle will be the more-rested team coming off a Thursday night game, while the Browns played a Monday night game. Even so, I think the Browns will get back on track here and pull off an upset.
Expect the Browns' flip-flopping of offensive competency to continue as the Seahawks’ defense is giving up nearly 6 yards per play to rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL. Cleveland would be a play at plus-3, but there’s virtually no chance this line — which opened as high as Cleveland minus-2.5 before Monday Night Football — gets that high.