- Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely
- Garrett has 10 of Cleveland’s 30 sacks this season and is tied for fourth in the NFL
- Can the Browns make a run at the AFC North title without their best defensive player?
The 4-6 Cleveland Browns won their second straight game on Thursday night. However, a massive fight broke out in the dying seconds and star defensive end Myles Garrett wound up ripping the helmet off Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph and using it like a mace to hit Rudolph in the head.
To no one’s surprise, Garrett has been suspended for the remainder of the season (including playoffs) for the unprecedented incident.
Now the Browns are seemingly back in playoff and AFC North contention with an easy schedule upcoming, but will have to continue their winning streak without their best defender. Are they worth a look in the AFC North odds?
2019 AFC North Odds
Odds taken November 15.
Browns Beat Steelers But Garrett Suspended
On Thursday, the Browns did something the franchise had never done before: beat the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in the same season. But the win was blemished by the aforementioned fight between Garrett and Rudolph.
Garrett actually connected flush on Rudolph’s head and he’s lucky that there was no damage – at least no visible damage. The incident was so ugly that talking heads (and teams) have discussed taking legal action.
Myles Garrett doing the unthinkable and unimaginable. pic.twitter.com/Y0UXzrCskn
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 15, 2019
Setting that aside for now, the win made it two in a row for the Browns. However, both wins have been fairly ugly in nature. They barely squeaked by the Buffalo Bills and weren’t that impressive against the Steelers, either. Rudolph coughed up four turnovers yet the Browns couldn’t put the game away until late.
Browns Have A Manageable Schedule
The main reason to hop aboard the Browns’ bandwagon is their schedule. Next week, they’ll host the Miami Dolphins, which should deliver a third straight win. After that, they’ll visit the Steelers, whom they just beat, and then play the Cincinnati Bengals (twice) and Arizona Cardinals in three of their final four.
The Steelers game is a toss-up and the Browns have to play the 7-2 Ravens again, but the other four games are all winnable. If the Browns can split the Steelers-Ravens games, they could finish the year on a 5-1 run, which would give them an 10-6 record for the season.
Browns Won’t Catch The Ravens
The problem for the Browns is that they’ve dug themselves too deep of a hole in the division. Not only do they have to finish the year 5-1 in their final six games to even have a shot, they would also need the Ravens – a team that’s won five in a row – to collapse. Even if Baltimore goes just 4-3 the rest of the way, they will still finish 11-5. That would be good enough to edge out Cleveland unless the Browns win all six of their remaining games.
While Baltimore’s schedule isn’t a breeze – their next four games are against teams with winning records – they should still find a minimum of three wins. We’re talking about a team that has already beaten the top teams in the league like New England and Seattle, so games against Houston, San Francisco and Buffalo are more than manageable.
What’s The Best Bet?
The Browns’ odds to win the AFC North have shortened quite a bit over the last few weeks; they were as high as +3000, but after two straight wins, they’re down to +1200. The odds will continue to get shorter – especially if they beat Miami next week – but I don’t see this as a good bet.
This is not a well-coached team and they’re extremely undisciplined, as we saw on Thursday. Cleveland is on pace for a record number of penalties. On top of that, they’ll now be without their best defensive player for the rest of the season. Garrett has 33% of the Browns’ sacks this year (10 of 30) and is (was) tied for fourth-most in the NFL.
A 9-7 record for the year would be a good result for Cleveland, but that won’t be enough for an AFC North title. I’ll pass on their AFC North odds for now.