Deshaun Watson’s supersized 11-game suspension has gobsmacked the Cleveland Browns – and changed the NFL odds for the rest of the AFC North.
Not only have the Cleveland Browns’ odds dipped in three betting markets but the news also had an impact on the odds to win the AFC North, for the three other teams, and in particular for the Baltimore Ravens.
The three futures odds in question are:
- Super Bowl odds
- Season Wins
- AFC North
We’ll take a look in-depth at the last one and place a bet on the second one. As for the first betting market, the Browns, who at one point were around +1500 to lift the Lombardi Trophy, now find themselves at around +2500 to+3000 or higher depending where you shop.
11-Game Suspension Details
You gotta say this about Deshaun Watson: He knows where his towel is. The would-be quarterback for the Cleveland Browns will have to wait a while longer to make his regular-season debut after the NFL brass decided six games wasn’t enough of a suspension for his off-field misdeeds – they made it 11 games without pay and tacked on a $5-million fine for good measure.
On top of that, Watson will have to comply with a counseling process and his reinstatement will be subject to an evaluation by behavioral experts.
Naturally, when this news came down the pipe Thursday morning, the sportsbooks jumped into action and took Cleveland down a peg. The pecking order hasn’t changed in the AFC North, but the Browns have a tougher road ahead of them, and the remaining three teams should have an easier time navigating the 2022 schedule.
Well, two of those three, at least. To illustrate how the ongoing Watson saga has impacted the NFL lines, let’s compare and contrast the AFC North futures market at three different points, with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review) supplying the NFL futures odds.
NFL Squeezes Out Browns
First up, we have the four teams as they stood before Watson had any games taken away:
- Baltimore Ravens: +160
- Cincinnati Bengals: +190
- Cleveland Browns: +275
- Pittsburgh Steelers: +1000
It should be noted that Watson was expected to face some kind of discipline (from the NFL and/or the courts) when the Browns acquired him from the Houston Texans and signed the three-time Pro Bowler to that gigantic five-year, $230-million contract – all guaranteed. So that expectation was baked into Cleveland’s +275 odds to win the division.
Then an independent “disciplinary officer” ruled on August 1 that Watson would miss the first six games of the 2022 campaign, no fine attached. Here’s how that news affected the odds:
- Baltimore Ravens: +160
- Cincinnati Bengals: +175
- Cleveland Browns: +300
- Pittsburgh Steelers: +850
Not that big a difference, really. Six Watson-less games wouldn’t have changed the AFC North all that much, especially since the Browns only have one divisional matchup during that span, and that’s against the Steelers in Week 3.
- Baltimore Ravens: +135
- Cincinnati Bengals: +180
- Cleveland Browns: +350
- Pittsburgh Steelers: +1000
Well then. Not only have the Browns lost even more ground to their division rivals, but Baltimore has also improved their chances of retaking the AFC North title. Imagine the carnage if Watson had been suspended the entire season, though.
Winning Starts at the Top
It wouldn’t be the Cleveland Browns without some quarterback controversy. This team has ruined well over a dozen QBs since it was re-born in 1999, starting with Tim Couch and peaking most recently with Baker Mayfield – both No. 1 overall draft picks.
There’s also plenty to be said about how extra-horribly the Browns have been run since Jimmy Haslam bought them in 2012. Horribly from a football perspective, that is. The Browns have one playoff win to their name in the nine seasons following that $1-billion purchase; Forbes Magazine valued the Browns at $2.6 billion last year. Who says crime doesn’t pay?
Running off Mayfield – the engineer of that lone playoff victory over Pittsburgh during the 2020 Wild Card round – seems even dumber now that Watson is in the Dawghouse. But at least the Browns have a Plan B. Jacoby Brissett is once again being thrust into the spotlight, and he has some experience with these matters.
Brissett Has Been Here Before
You may remember Brissett for the two games he started with the 2016 New England Patriots after Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension, or maybe his full seasons with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 and 2019 as Andrew Luck’s replacement. Most recently, Brissett started five games for the 2021 Miami Dolphins while Tua Tagovailoa was recovering from fractured ribs.
Results have been… mixed. According to the DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) numbers at Football Outsiders, Brissett was replacement-level in 2016, worse than that in 2017, league-average in 2019, and downright awful in 2021.
We’ll see what happens now that Brissett has yet another new head coach in Kevin Stefanski. Remember when he won 2020 Coach of the Year in his Browns debut? That seems like a lifetime ago already.
In the meantime, if you were hoping to get Baltimore at a bargain price to win the AFC North, while everyone’s attention had shifted to both the Bengals – following their trip to Super Bowl LVI – and the Browns, that ship has already sailed.
But, taking Over 8 (+110) on Cleveland’s regular-season win total at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) sure is tempting, considering the Browns might now be inclined to trade for one of Brissett’s former teammates: Jimmy Garoppolo.
Boom…goes the dynamite?
NFL Pick: Cleveland Browns Over 8 Season Wins (+110) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.