Online sports betting sites are saying this one is going to come down to the wire, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened as slight 3-point favorites over the Cleveland Browns in their Week 7 matchup at Raymond James Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 1:00pm EST on October 21st.
Cleveland’s offense is grounded on pounding the ball. But that clearly hasn’t gotten them very far, as they only average 21.3 PPG. Without their success on the ground, though, it would be even less. The Browns total 137.7 yards per game on the ground, led by Carlos Hyde.
The Browns have needed to lean on Hyde and the rest of the Cleveland backfield this season, as Baker Mayfield has been up and down as a rookie.
The pivot averages 291.7 passing yards per game in his three starts, but only has 4 touchdowns to his name with 5 interceptions, resulting in a 72.8 passer rating. The first-overall pick from the 2018 NFL Draft has seen two pretty tough pass defenses over the last two weeks, though, in the Chargers and Ravens.
Cleveland won’t be able to rely on Hyde anymore, though, as they have traded him to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is believed the Browns wanted to get rookie Nick Chubb more touches, as the RB is averaging a whopping 10.8 yards per carry.
The Browns likely won’t need to rely so heavily on their ground game in Week 7, fortunately. Mayfield will be licking his chops lining up across from the Bucs after two tough games.
Saying Cleveland’s defense prides themselves on defending the pass is a bit hyperbolic. They are better against the pass than run, but they’re not really good at stopping either method of attack.
The Browns are giving up 268.3 yards per game through the air (20th), and 138.2 on the ground (29th). Unsurprisingly, the consequence is teams scoring 25.2 points per game against them, which is 20th in the NFL.
Cleveland’s defense is in tough this week against a Tampa Bay offense that is scoring points at will. Thanks to a lethal passing attack, the Buccaneers are scoring 28.2 points per game (eighth).
Jameis Winston looked good in his first start, racking up 395 yards through the air with four TDs. This did come against a terrible Falcons defense, though, and also featured two costly INTs.
Winston appears to have slightly better chemistry with receiver DeSean Jackson than last season. Jackson was tied for the team-lead last week with nine targets, bringing in four of them for 77 yards. Winston and Jackson will have to continue to grow together and threaten defenses deep for the Bucs offense to continue succeeding.
Tampa Bay has needed big efforts from the QB, though, as they have struggled to run the ball efficiently.
Led by Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay averages an awful 3.6 yards per carry (29th in the league). This inefficiency on the ground will certainly catch up with them now that Winston is under center.
The Buccaneers defense has simply not been good. The league-high 355.8 passing yards per game they give up has resulted in them allowing a disgraceful 34.6 points per game (32nd).
This has the potential to not only be a shootout, but also Mayfield’s best game as a pro.