- Carolina is a pick-em against visiting Cleveland in the NFL opener Sunday, September 11th
- The teams are meeting for the first time since 2018; with Baker Mayfield now starting for the Panthers
- Read below for Cleveland vs Carolina odds, analysis, and betting prediction
Carolina and Cleveland are a pick-em when the Panthers play host to the Browns in the NFL opener for both at 1 pm ET Sunday, September 11th on CBS. The teams will meet for the first time since the Browns’ 26-20 victory as a 1-point home underdog in 2018.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield will make his first start for Carolina after being traded in an offseason deal with the Browns for a conditional 2024 draft choice. The Browns are paying $10.5 million of Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary this season.
Cleveland vs Carolina Odds
|Cleveland Browns||PK (-110)||-110||Over 42 (-110)|
|Carolina Panthers||PK (-110)||-110||Under 42 (-110)|
Odds from Barstool Sportsbook on Sept. 9. See this Barstool Sportsbook promo code to bet on NFL Week 1.
Both Browns and Panhers are -110 on the moneyline in the Week 1 NFL odds, meaning they each have 50% implied win probability.
Carolina Calls on a Baker
After cycling through Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold since 2018, Carolina believes it found a quarterback it can win with in Baker Mayfield, acquired from the Browns for a conditional draft pick and financial considerations in the offseason.
It remains to be seen if Mayfield, who played through left shoulder injury that required offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum, is that guy.
RB Nick Chubb on what he expects from Former QB Baker Mayfield.
“We all know Baker, so I don’t know what to expect.” pic.twitter.com/K1hmMLyGaN
— Faithful Dawgs Podcast (@FDPodcastCLE) September 7, 2022
Mayfield threw for 3,000 yards in each of his four seasons with the Browns, and he helped them to the playoffs in 2020 when he showed improved decision-making — 3,563 yards with 26 touchdowns and a career-low eight interceptions. He has 92 touchdowns against 56 picks in his career.
A win Sunday would make him 30-30 as a starter.
Cleveland QB Drama
Meanwhile, the Browns will open and presumably play the first three months with journeyman Jacoby Brissett at quarterback while DeShaun Watson sits out his 11-game suspension. Watson signed a five-year, $230 million deal after being acquired from Houston, and Mayfield left 3 1/2 months later.
Here are this year’s official 538 QB ratings.
Thoughts?https://t.co/tGA40G6IWn https://t.co/DqKR1uNbxg pic.twitter.com/FGRfOgUu9s
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) September 7, 2022
Brissett is 14-23 as a starter with New England, Indianapolis and Miami. The dual-threat went 4-11 as a starter in his first year as a regular with Indianapolis in 2017 and had the Colts off to a 5-2 start after Andrew Luck abruptly retired in 2019 before they slumped to a 7-9 finish.
Brissett was 2-3 as the Dolphins’ starters in 2021, although he was back on the bench for the final seven games as Miami made a late run at the playoffs.
The Money Going to Carolina
Cleveland opened as a 1-point favorite, but the game was bet down to even by Thursday and swung even more in Carolina’s direction on Friday, when some books had the Panthers listed as a 2- or 2.5-point favorite. The Panthers received about 80 percent of action.
The sharps are leaning on history, too. Cleveland is 0-16-1 in its last 17 season openers. The Browns have not won an opener on the road since 1994.
Backfield in Motion I
Christian McCaffrey took a cleat to the shin in practice Thursday and was on the injury report before being removed Friday. He gives the Panthers a dual-purpose running back to attack a Browns’ defense that was 12th in the league in rushing last year, giving up 109.2 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry.
Everyone wants to focus on Baker Mayfield vs the #Browns.
The matchup I am more interested to see is LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah vs RB Christian McCaffrey 👀. pic.twitter.com/M7ARQgDZUf
— Tyler Johnson (@T_johnson_TJ) September 8, 2022
McCaffrey led the NFL in all-purpose yards in 2019 but knee injuries have limited him to 10 games the last two seasons. The Panthers were 2-6 ATS at home last season, 2-0 when McCaffrey was fully healthy and 0-6 when he was out or limited.
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Backfield in Motion II
The Browns are expected to use halfbacks Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt as battering rams against the Panthers, who were in the lower half of the league in rushing defense a year ago at 113.8 yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry.
Nick Chubb since 2019:
🟤 181 missed tackles forced (1st)
🟠 114 runs of 10+ yards (1st)
🟤 2,860 yards after contact (2nd)
In a class of his own. pic.twitter.com/z4LL4AQp5G
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) September 7, 2022
The underappreciated Chubb has averaged 91 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns per game while averaging 51.3 yards per carry in the last three seasons.
Cleveland vs Carolina Prediction
While it is not exactly Russell Wilson returning to Seattle, the Baker Mayfield-meets-Cleveland makes for a good storyline. But this game will be decided by who can run the ball. The Browns will pound the ball behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and pound it some more in what is certain to be a conservative game plan. Not only will the Browns want Brissett simply to manage the game, but they also have seen Mayfield struggle with turnovers.
QB Jacoby Brissett on team reaction/emotion to facing Baker Mayfield.
— Faithful Dawgs Podcast (@FDPodcastCLE) September 7, 2022
Cleveland has a new No. 1 wideout in Amari Cooper, but the Panthers have a breakout wideout candidate in D.J. Moore, who has three consecutive 1,100-yard seasons but was held out of the end zone because of inconsistent quarterback play. Mayfield, McCaffrey and Moore will do enough to keep the Browns’ miserable Game 1 streak intact for another season.
The pick: Carolina PK (-110)
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