NFL Lines Preview: San Francisco at Cleveland
Two teams in disarray meet in Cleveland this week for a NFL lines matchup as the San Francisco 49ers (4-8) arrive to take on the Browns (2-10). Both teams have chaos at the quarterback position, as the Browns are turning the starting job back over to Johnny Manziel (so long as he doesn’t go to another party, post a video and then lie about it). The 49ers have Blaine Gabbert under center after banishing Colin Kaepernick from the starting position because of his inability to lead the offense. The Browns are favored by 1.5 points, and the over-under total is 41 points.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 10, 2015
The Browns have dropped their last seven games, and they haven’t even covered the spread in six in a row. With Austin Davis as the starting quarterback, the Browns were bulldozed 37-3 last week by the Cincinnati Bengals. Manziel is 76 for 128 for 933 yards so far this season with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also lost five fumbles this season. His last action came on November 15, when the Browns lost 30-9 to the Steelers. That made 19 total points for the Browns in Manziel’s last two starts.
The 49ers are coming off an overtime win in Chicago, in which Gabbert and wide receiver Torrey Smith were the shocking heroes, although the defense was particularly impressive, playing with backups at both inside linebacker and one outside linebacker position. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has reverted back to his typical form, throwing for a 64.2 paser rating. The 49ers are 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games with teams who have losing records at home. They are also 4-1 against the spread in their last five contests played on grass, and 5-1 against the spread in their last six road games.
The Browns are 1-4 against the spread in their last five home contests and 0-4 against the spread in their last four games played on grass. It’s smart for them to start Manziel because they need to see if he can be the Browns’ quarterback of the future. If he can’t, he should get some looks so that other teams can take a look at him and consider bidding on his services this fall. The Niners’ defense appears to be on a roll, though, so I would take the Niners to win this game straight up (and definitely to cover).