The Cleveland Browns have made a potentially huge decision regarding not only this season but their future heading into the team’s third NFL preseason game on Saturday night against the “Hard Knocks” Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So, the question is, why the Browns are favorites in the NFL odds to beat the Buccaneers? Here’s why.
Cleveland at Tampa Bay NFL Preseason Odds, Pick & PredictionNFL LiveOpening NFL Preseason Lines: Bucs -3 (42)
- Chance of Thunderstrom: 30°C/86°F
- Humidity: 73%
- Precipitation: 44%
- Wind: 8 mph N
- Cloud Cover: 63%
- Type of Stadium: Open
Browns Going With RookieI’ll admit that I thought the Cleveland Browns were going to start Brock Osweiler not just in this game but also Week 1 against Pittsburgh. He’s the most experienced QB on the roster and had started both exhibition games so far. I was wrong.Not only is Osweiler not starting in Tampa, he’s not playing at all and the team would like to find a taker for him in trade – that’s not happening since Osweiler is guaranteed $16 million this season. He could be cut, though. The Browns acquired Osweiler in May as a throw-in on a deal that sent Houston’s second round draft pick in 2018 to Cleveland. The Browns listened to trade offers then, but they kept Osweiler after not finding a deal they liked.Osweiler played four series and two quarters in the Browns’ first two preseason games. The first-team offense — with some offensive line backups — did not score any points in his five possessions. Osweiler completed 12 of 22 passes for 67 yards, 3 yards per attempt.
Who Will Be the Quarterback For This Game?So it’s DeShone Kizer, a second-round rookie out of Notre Dame, getting the call. He is 19-for-31 for 258 yards with 1 touchdown and 5 sacks in 2 preseason games. You don’t have to read between the lines that Kizer will start Week 1 unless he’s terrible this week or gets hurt. The team that has had 26 different starting quarterback since 1999 will have a 27th come Sept. 12.Coach Hue Jackson was asked why he didn’t put the opening game starting quarterback decision to bed when he named Kizer the starter for the third preseason game. His response: “Well it’s in the bed. … So I’m very close to putting it to bed.”Meanwhile, the Browns placed linebacker Tank Carder (knee) and offensive lineman Matt McCants (ankle) on injured reserve. Carder, who was competing for a starting role and had started both preseason games, suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter of Monday’s game against the Giants.
Bucs Have Work To DoTampa opened the preseason with a loss in Cincinnati and then squeaked by a bad Jaguars team in Jacksonville 12-8 last week. Jameis Winston continued his solid preseason, completing 21 of 29 passes for 196 yards for Tampa Bay vs. the Jags. Winston had two passes dropped, including what would have been a 43-yard touchdown strike to Mike Evans in the first quarter. The Buccaneers scored on their first three possessions, getting a short touchdown run from Doug Martin and two field goals from Nick Folk.Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes was back practicing Wednesday after missing the last week with a shin laceration. He still had a sleeve on his leg and wasn’t participating in team periods — just position drills. He stayed on the field for several minutes after to continue working. Head coach Dirk Koetter said Sunday that Grimes was “doubtful” vs. Cleveland.The team has avoided disaster on star linebacker Kwon Alexander. He had an MRI on a hamstring injury but it came back OK. Alexander is 50/50 to play this week, but Tampa certainly won’t push him. Alexander’s absence is giving rookie Kendell Beckwith some time to shine, and that may even carry into the third preseason game.
Cleveland vs Tampa Bay Game HistoryThese teams played last year in the preseason and Tampa won 30-13 at home. Winston threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns in one half of work for the Bucs. Evans had five receptions for 115 yards, including a 34-yard TD from Winston, who completed 16 of 25 passes. The Browns started Robert Griffin III at quarterback – he’s out of the league now. Griffin was sacked five times. Cleveland yielded three more sacks in the second half.
- Total Meetings: 9
- First Meeting: November 21st, 1976. Tampa Stadium. Tampa, Florida.
- Last Meeting: November 2nd, 2014. FirstEnergy Stadium. Cleveland, Ohio.
- All-Time Series: Cleveland 6-3-0
- Largest Margin of Victory: Cleveland 20-0 (1983)
- Longest Win Streak: Cleveland (1976-1995)
- Current Win Streak: Cleveland 1 (2014)
NFL Preseason Game Trends
- Under is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings.
- Browns are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 meetings.
- Buccaneers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games overall.