Jim Moore Predicts: Seahawks could be in for a shock against Browns
The Seahawks are favored by 1 1/2 points, suggesting it will be a close game in Cleveland on Sunday. I say this because Las Vegas is frequently right with its pointspreads. A recent example involving the Seahawks – they were favored by 1 1/2 points a week ago and beat the Rams 30-29.
I bring that up because if you watched Monday night’s game between the Browns and 49ers, you came away from it thinking that Cleveland, not Miami, has the worst team in the league. The Browns were completely dominated, losing 31-3 to the 49ers.
But this is still a talented Cleveland team. The Browns are 2-3 and could still factor into the AFC North title race when the schedule eases up in the second half of the season. Go ahead and discount one of their wins over the Jets – I have too – because Luke Falk was playing quarterback for the Jets, and as much I love the former Coug, he doesn’t appear to be ready for success in the NFL just yet, if ever.
But when I’m looking at this matchup between the Browns and the Seahawks, I’m also trying to remember that Cleveland dismantled the Ravens in Baltimore 40-25 two weeks ago. I have no idea how the Browns could have done that after watching them Monday night, but it shows that they’re capable if firing on all cylinders.
They also have had a pattern thus far of loss-win-loss-win-loss. If the pattern holds, they will win this week.
Key factors to consider:
• The Browns are 29th in the league against the run, allowing an average of 151 rushing yards a game. That plays into a Seahawks’ strength with Chris Carson rushing for more than 100 yards in the last two games. But there are questions about Carson’s health – he was on the injury report Thursday with some type of shoulder issue, limiting his participation in practice. Maybe this will be the game in which Rashaad Penny shows why he was a first-round draft choice last year.
• Baker Mayfield has thrown eight interceptions, more than any other quarterback in the league. Will this be the week when the Seahawks pick up the pace with interceptions? They have only three thus far and only two from defensive backs. Tre Flowers has gone 21 career games without a pick, and Shaquill Griffin is riding a pick-less streak of 19 games. It’s interesting to note that one of those NextGen stats shows that Mayfield has thrown into double coverage twice as often as any other quarterback, another encouraging sign for Seattle’s secondary.
• The Seahawks have only five sacks in the last four games, but this could be a spot for them to improve on that total. Mayfield was under duress all night against San Francisco and has been sacked 16 times this season. Look for Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah and Quinton Jefferson to be in the Browns’ backfield on Sunday as often as Cleveland running back Nick Chubb.
It looks too obvious to pick the Seahawks, and as much as I like their chances to hold their own in a watered-down NFC this year, I still wonder how good they are. Yes, they’re 4-1, but they’ve won two of their games by one point and one by two points. They could just as easily be 2-3 or even 1-4.
This is more of a gut feel than anything else. By most accounts, the Seahawks look to be the superior team. The Browns could be on the verge of a free-fall that could include the firing of Freddie Kitchens at season’s end and distractions from an unhappy Odell Beckham Jr., who has only four receptions in the last two games.
In Cleveland this week, everyone’s been asking: “What’s wrong with the Browns?” After Sunday’s game when they edge the Seahawks, “nothing” will be the surprising answer.
Prediction: Browns 27, Seahawks 24.
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