24-16 (60%) on my last 40 free plays, and your free NFL pick for Sunday is Cleveland +3.5.
New Era Begins on Both Sides
Both the Browns and Eagles feature new head coaches, as well as new quarterbacks. Cleveland plays its first meaningful game under new head coach Hue Jackson, while the Eagles begin the Doug Pederson era. At quarterback, the Eagles start the second overall pick in this year’s draft, Carson Wentz. The Browns will have former Redskin Robert Griffin III under center.
I have to give the coaching edge to Jackson. He has much more coaching experience than Pederson, including a brief stint as Oakland’s head coach. I also have to give the quarterbacking edge to Cleveland with RGIII. Wentz hasn’t played a meaningful NFL snap, while RGIII has experience that will work to his advantage.
Home Openers Haven’t Gone Well In Philly
The Eagles haven’t been very good in home openers recently, sporting a 1-6 ATS mark in their last seven. The last six new Eagles head coaches have a disappointing history in home openers as well, going 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS. That certainly doesn’t bode well for the inexperienced Pederson today.
This is simply a matchup of two teams who figure to finish under .500 this season. So both coaches will see this game as one of the few they have a decent chance to win. As a result, I expect to see a lot of Browns running backs Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. Also, Pederson doesn’t figure to ask his rookie QB to do too much.
I’m expecting both teams to play this game “close to the vest.” Both coaches will want to be conservative early, and not have their new QB’s make critical mistakes. It’s the “let’s keep it close and win it in the fourth quarter” mentality.
Free NFL Pick: When In Doubt, Take the Points
When sub par teams square off and a bet just has to be made, it’s usually best to grab the points. They also say, “when in doubt, take the points.” Well, there’s certainly a lot in doubt in this one. I’ll take the 3.5 with Cleveland as your free NFL pick for Sunday.