Editor’s Note: The NFL announced on Friday afternoon that the Las Vegas Raiders and the Cleveland Browns game has been moved to Monday 20th, at 05:00 PM EST due to a “substantial increase in (COVID) cases across the league.”
With the college football regular season wrapped up, the NFL is now taking over Saturdays as well as Sundays. The battle between two teams outside the AFC playoff picture is one of the games that the league flexed to fill the Saturday football void.
The Raiders and Browns will play on the NFL Network. Cleveland is a game out in the AFC North and tied with the bottom two AFC playoff teams at 7-6. Thanks to tiebreakers, however, Cleveland is the first team on the outside, looking in.
Las Vegas is still in the mix, at 6-7, but after losing two straight, the Raiders are on the verge of dropping out of contention. Let’s take a look at the NFL odds and decide which way to lean at top sportsbooks.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns
Monday, December 20, 2021 – 05:00 PM EST at FirstEnergy Stadium
Las Vegas Bender
Once upon a time, the Raiders were 5-2 and in the thick of the playoff race. Since Las Vegas’ bye week, however, the Raiders have been a different team. Vegas has lost five of six games since to drop below .500.
The collapse includes a loss to the last-place Giants, a loss to the sub-.500 Washington Football team, and two blowouts at the hands of the Chiefs, who used the pair of Raider games to get to .500 for the first time since Week One.
The Raiders lost at Kansas City on Sunday by the most lopsided score in the history of the rivalry, falling 48-9 after holding a pregame meeting on Kansas City’s on-field logo and angering the Chiefs. The Raiders lost the home-and-home to K.C. by a combined 89-32 margin.
The Raiders fumbled and gave up a touchdown on the first snap of the game, and things went downhill from there, as Las Vegas struggled with turnovers, pass protection, and even missed an extra point kick.
The entire team participated in the show of disrespect for the Chiefs, although afterward, quarterback Derek Carr appeared to be calling out some unnamed teammates, saying, “One thing I will say is, I always have my teammates' back. And I will forever have their back and if that's what we're doing, that's what we're doing. And, that's what I'll say.”
The injury news also wasn’t good for Las Vegas. Cornerback Trayvon Mullen returned for the first time since Week Four, but his recovery from a toe injury was short-lived. He didn’t make it through the game, getting help from the field in the third quarter.
In The Mix
The Browns jumped to the head of the playoff hopefuls with a win over the Ravens, Sunday, splitting back-to-back games against Baltimore, sandwiched around the bye week. The win snapped a stretch of two losses in three games for Cleveland, which had prompted pass rusher Myles Garrett to call out the Browns.
During game week, Garrett expressed displeasure at the team’s worth ethic and attention to detail. He said that the players and coaches had to “get right” by Sunday. Garrett then had a defensive touchdown in the 24-22 win over the division leaders, cutting the Ravens’ lead over the Browns in half. Garrett also set the team’s single-season sack record in the win.
Baker Mayfield, who has struggled with nagging injuries, looked as good as he has in a month in the victory, despite a brief second-half concussion scare, although he was quickly cleared. Running back Kareem Hunt was the only casualty. In his second game since missing five with a leg injury, he hurt his ankle in the first quarter.
The Browns were dialed in on Sunday after hovering around .500 for the last month. The team could suffer a letdown with the reeling Raiders coming to town in the midst of a string that includes games against every other division rival. Vegas, meanwhile, can’t look as bad as it did against the Chiefs. For our NFL picks, look for regression to the mean to help cover a surprisingly large line.
*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.