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NFL Week 15 Betting – Manziel, Cle. Huge Dogs at Seattle

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in NFL Football

Updated Jan 17, 2018 · 9:39 AM PST

Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks (-15,  43.5 o/u)

Andy Dalton going down was the biggest injury news of Week 14. But the loss of running back Thomas Rawls for the Seattle Seahawks (8-5, 4-2 home) can’t be overlooked. With Marshawn Lynch already on the sideline, Rawls had keyed a resurgent Seahawk offense, forcing defenses to focus on the run and allowing Russell Wilson time to flourish. Now Pete Carroll has to scramble for a replacement until Lynch  is ready to go. Lucky for the coach, he probably won’t need much from the offense this Sunday as the lowly Cleveland Browns (3-10, 1-5 road) come to CenturyLink Field (4:05 PM Eastern).

The undrafted Rawls was having a phenomenal rookie campaign, rushing for 830 yards on just 147 carries (5.5 yards per carry average). He’d already posted four 100-yard games in just seven career starts. But a broken ankle suffered in Week 14 against the Ravens ended his season. Lynch will be back at some point this year. Until then, Carroll will likely employ a running-back-by-committee approach with Fred Jackson, Christine Michael, and Bryce Brown.

Whether the Seahawks even need a run-game is debatable, though. Wilson has been unstoppable of late, hooking up with WR Doug Baldwin, alone, for seven TDs over the past three games. Wilson and Baldwin have Seattle scoring at its highest rate all year, averaging over 37 PPG in the last three.

The Seahawk defense has had its struggles this year – especially compared to recent history – but it’s also been better of late, holding the Vikings to seven points in Week 13 and the Ravens to 6 in Week 14. Granted, those aren’t the most potent Os in the league. But neither is Cleveland.

The Browns are last in the AFC with 240 points-for on the year (18.4 PPG) and have very little in the way of a running game.

They were able to dominate the 49ers at home last weekend, 24-10, and actually got great production from RB Isaiah Crowell (145 yards and two TDs on 20 carries). But hosting the Niners is the exception that proves the rule this year; San Fran is second-last in the league against the run, and has been absolutely horrid away from home.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, are second-best in the league against the run. That means all the pressure will be on Johnny Manziel and the passing game. Manziel was reinstated as the starter last week and acquitted himself nicely, going 21 of 31 for 270 yards and a major. But the divisive party-boy has yet to prove he can get it done against top-notch defenses, getting held firmly in check by the Jets, Rams, and Bengals this season.

The 15-point spread is big, especially considering Rawls and Lynch are both out. But I don’t expect the Cleveland offense to be able to muster much in the way of points, at least not until garbage time. While a back-door cover is always possible, I see the lead growing to more than 15 and will role with the Seahawks to cover.

Pick: Seattle (-15).

(Photo credit: Philip Robertson [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)

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