NFL Week 1 Parlay at (+282) Features Baker Mayfield Facing His Old Team

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Baker Mayfield #6 of the Carolina Panthers looks over the Buffalo Bills defense. Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP.

Top sportsbooks have released their NFL odds for this week’s action. One game, in particular, interests me as worth investing in: Cleveland vs. Carolina.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play both spread and total for this game. Feel free to parlay these bets at one of our best sportsbooks in order to maximize your profit.

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Cleveland Browns vs. Carolina Panthers

Sunday, September 11, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at Bank of America Stadium

Browns' Rush Attack 

It is no secret that Cleveland primarily wants to run the ball. Having two starter-caliber running backs in star Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt plus offensive linemen who specialize in run-blocking conduces to this endeavor.

Last year, Chubb amassed 1,259 rushing yards on 5.5 YPC while Hunt added 4.9 YPC. They were helped by an offensive line that ranked sixth in yards before contact while featuring two Pro Bowlers in Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller.

Right tackle Jack Conklin, always known for his superb run-blocking since his Titan days, will help maintain Cleveland's strong run-blocking.

Panthers' Run Defense 

Last year, the Panthers ranked 18th in opposing rush yards per defense. While this isn't terrible, they also lost a lot during the offseason.

DaQuan Jones, Morgan Fox (although he's more of a pass rusher), and Jermaine Carter were all valuable to what the Panthers' run defense was able to accomplish.

These losses compound the worry about the front seven's ability to limit Chubb and Hunt, which, given last year's numbers, surely would have persisted even if the Panthers had not suffered significant roster turnover.

Panthers' Pass Rush 

It is imperative for any pass-rushing unit to employ multiple strong pass rushers because otherwise, the opposing offensive line will focus on eliminating the one threat.

Many strong pass rushers have shown to be limited severely by the absence of some other good pass rusher who can take attention off of him. The Panthers' Brian Burns faces this problem.

While Carolina ranked above-average in sack rate last season, despite its depreciated ability to achieve sacks in the latest segment of its season, the Panthers lost key personnel over the offseason. Perhaps most notably, Haason Reddick contributed 11 sacks but is now an Eagle.

Jacoby Brissett 

Brissett will often enjoy a clean pocket thanks to the regression in Carolina's pass-rushing quality. Last year, crucially, he ranked fourth in clean pocket accuracy rating.

The frequency with which he throws from a clean pocket exposes Carolina's defense more often to the threat that, with his characteristically strong arm, he creates on all parts of the field.

Browns' Wide Receivers Against Panthers' Cornerbacks 

Expect, therefore, many accurate passes from Brissett to his superior pass-catching crew. Most notably, Amari Cooper will have a decisively positive game. Panthers' cornerbacks do not possess sufficient quality to limit Cooper.

Among other things, Cooper is a viable deep threat who ably secures a cushion for himself but, as the metrics likewise show, ably achieves contested catches.

When playing Carolina last year, Cooper scored a 35-yard touchdown off disappointing former first-round pick CJ Henderson. His prospects when Henderson's teammate, Donte Jackson, tries to cover him look equally promising given Jackson's struggle with limiting the catch/target efficiency of opposing top wide receivers, such as Houston's Brandin Cooks.

More Than Just Cooper

Besides Cooper, David Bell, a third-round selection in this year's NFL Draft, can be a deep threat, although he is mostly praised for his combination of good hands and effective route-running.

More impactfully, Donovan Peoples-Jones seems primed to have a breakout season. When he had to occupy the top wide receiver position on his team last season, he responded by procuring career-best numbers for himself.

His physical skill set and athleticism have always been insane. It is just a matter of polishing technique, and he's evidently been improving a lot in this respect.

Browns' Pass Rush 

One reason why I think Cleveland has the advantage in its passing game is the prominence of its pass-rushing duo. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney combined for 25 sacks last season.

By forcing opposing offenses to account for two-star pass-rushers, Cleveland outdoes Carolina with its heavy reliance on Burns.

Panthers' Pass Protection 

The Browns' pass-rushing duo creates an advantage in the passing game by hurting Panthers' quarterback Baker Mayfield's chances of succeeding. Mayfield is notoriously bad under pressure. Last year, he ranked 31st in pressured completion percentage.

His pass protection unit will fail to help him avoid pressure. Panthers' pass protection ranked 26th last year as measured by the rate at which it allowed sacks.

Viewed holistically, in fact, Carolina's offensive line was one of the NFL's worst. Its plethora of additions via free agency and the draft will take time to affect any meaningful change in the success rate of its pass protection.

Coverage 

Though known for his zone coverage, particularly his preference for Cover 3, Browns' defensive coordinator Joe Woods has grown in flexibility. Taking advantage of the skill set of his cornerbacks, who are comfortable in man coverage, Woods employed more man coverage as last season progressed.

His increased confidence with man coverage was most famous when Browns' cornerbacks limited Bengals' star Ja'Marr Chase's yardage output and general productivity, repeatedly utilizing their physical presence at the line of scrimmage to disrupt him and make him uncomfortable after the snap.

Because Mayfield struggles mightily against man coverage (last year, he ranked 26th in passer rating against man) Cleveland's ability to play man coverage will pay off.


NFL Parlay Verdict 

Both teams' reliance on running backs will ensure a heavy amount of clock-draining when both teams are on offense. A rainy day (rain is forecasted for Sunday) will further ground both offenses (pun intended).

But Cleveland has an edge with its pass rush, which will help its quarterback outperform Carolina's while its defense, which ranked above-average against the run last year, won't need to do too much to ensure that Cleveland's deep rush attack outperforms Carolina's.

For your NFL picks, expect a low-scoring game and a Cleveland triumph. I recommend parlaying the Browns ATS with the "Under". Be sure to use our trusty parlay calculator for your parlay betting needs.

NFL Parlay Picks

  • Browns +1 (+100)
  • Under 42 (-110)

NFL Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+282) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Two-Legged Parlay (+282)
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*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.