The Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins both had a busy off-season. One hired a new coach, while the other tried to fortify itself with weapons in an era of need. On Sunday afternoon these teams will get together for a 1 PM ET kickoff at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
These are the pro football odds on this game as they are posted at GTBets.eu:
Cleveland Browns -1
Miami Dolphins +1
Over 41 Points -110
Under 41 Points -110
The Browns have had seven different coaches in the last 14 years. The latest is Rob Chudzinski, who was the team’s former offensive coordinator. He comes to Cleveland with a philosophy of throwing the ball more downfield instead of side-to-side, and he has brought aboard a coordinator who feels the same way. Norv Turner was also Chudzinski’s superior when they were with the San Diego Chargers.
Cleveland (+575 at GTBets to win the AFC North) has a quarterback with a strong arm in Brandon Weeden, but last year’s first-round draft choice will have to prove himself on the NFL level. He seems to be mature enough, approaching 30 years of age. But he will start behind the eight-ball in a sense because he will be without Josh Gordon, his top receiver, who is sitting out a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Davone Bess, who played with the Dolphins last year, will be one of those pass-catchers who will try to pick up the slack. And Trent Richardson, who is very much a “go-to” back, is going to have to be more of focus.
Miami did a lot of stuff in the off-season to try to cure one problem, which was to put some big-time weapons at the disposal of second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is still, when you think about it, a rather inexperienced signal-caller, considering that he only played a year and a half at the position at Texas A&M, having first played wide receiver.
A big criticism of the Dolphins (+300 to win the AFC east at GTBets) last year was that they didn’t have a lot of speed to go down the field, and they addressed that by bringing Mike Wallace over from Pittsburgh. He is a tough guy to cover, and it can be safely said that the Cleveland secondary knows him rather well (that can particularly be said about cornerback Joe Haden). Brandon Gibson is more of a “possession” type, and was acquired out of St. Louis. Tight end Dustin Keller, formerly of the Jets, was picked up as well, but he got injured in the off-season and is gone for the year.
Tannehill has a chance to attack a Browns secondary that surrendered 245 passing yards a game last season. And we’ll see how well he has progressed. Still, this could wind up being a defensive battle. The Dolphins will get after Weeden with one of the league’s best young defensive lines. When you consider what first-round picks like Jared Odrick and Dion Jordan can do, not to mention veteran Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, it’s enough to get the Cleveland quarterback very nervous.
To be perfectly honest, what Miami could really use is a running game that can operate with some consistency. Reggie Bush was a very good for this team for a couple of years, but he didn’t have the frame to carry a heavy load for very long. They are hoping that Lamar Miller, who went to school at the University of Miami, can fulfill the role of an every-down back, with Daniel Thomas, a versatile type, providing support.
Tannehill’s rookie season, in which he produced only a dozen TD passes and threw 13 interceptions, was certainly overshadowed by the exploits of Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. For him to avoid being the forgotten man in that class, he will have to show a great deal of progress working with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who was his head coach at Texas A&M, and take advantage of the new people who have been put in front of him. Weeden endures a new system in his second season and will probably have to start performing right out of the box, since Cleveland picked up veteran Jason Campbell in the off-season to provide something in the way of backup.