The NFL is officially underway now that the first episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is in the books. This season’s show features the Cleveland Browns. While viewers love the drama of NFL training camp, many teams avoid appearing on “Hard Knocks” because the cameras can be a distraction. The Browns have nowhere to go but up, so why not let cameras into camp?
There was a bit of innocence with teams participating on “Hard Knocks” in the early days of the show that started in 2001. Since the show started it seems as if players are overly aware that the cameras are on. Jarvis Landry trying to make “bless him” a cool catchphrase is so fetch. Of course, we’ll never forget J.J. Watt using “Hard Knocks” as an infomercial for himself.
Ironically, that Houston Texans team is one of two “Hard Knocks” teams to finish above their season win total in the past five years. The recent history of teams appearing on “Hard Knocks” doesn’t offer a strong trend against their win total set by the sportsbooks. The Rams (2016) and Bucs (2017) didn’t come close to reaching their projected win total.
2013 – Cincinnati Bengals – Preseason win total: 8.5 – actual win total: 11 – Result: Over
2014 – Atlanta Falcons – Preseason win total: 8 – actual win total: 6 – Result: Under
2015 – Houston Texans – Preseason win total: 8.5 – actual win total: 9 – Result: Over
2016 – Los Angeles Rams – Preseason win total: 7 – actual win total: 4 – Result: Under
2017 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Preseason win total: 8.5 – actual win total: 5 – Result: Under
Betting on the Cleveland Browns now
The Browns enter the season with limited expectations. After all, a single win is an improvement on the winless 2017 season. The 2018 season win total for the Browns at the Westgate in Las Vegas is currently six wins. There’s a lean to the under at -130. The Browns winning more than six games is +160.
Wagers on whether the Browns will make the playoffs at the Westgate tells a similar story. The odds on the Cleveland Browns to make the playoffs is leaning very much to the No. The Browns are -650 (bet $650 to win $100) not to make the playoffs. The odds of the Browns making the playoffs are +450 (bet $100 to win $450).
Maybe the season isn’t over already for the Cleveland Browns. The odds listed for them to win the AFC North are +1000. That’s not the worst in the division. The Cincinnati Bengals have the longest odds to win the AFC North at +1600. In case you’re curious, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the favorite to win the division at -260.
While we’re looking at current Cleveland Browns odds at the Westgate, they’re +4000 to win the AFC and +8000 to win the Super Bowl.
If you have “Hard Knocks” fever you can wager on their first preseason game of the year versus the New York Giants. The Browns are currently a -1 favorite at the Westgate. The game has a total of 34.5 if you think there will (or won’t) be a lot of points scored. Here’s a place to start if you’re looking to handicap the preseason games. Baker Mayfield will start the season as the backup to Tyrod Taylor but should see “extensive work” during the preseason.
Remember those days when the new Jordan kicks would hit the shelves and you’d wait in line and battle anyone for better position like Sylvester Stallone in literally everything he’s ever done?
Well, North Carolina football players clearly don’t have that problem. Actually, quite the opposite. They have so much Jordan gear they are willing to pawn it off like that creepy ceramic dog that’s been sitting in the corner of your garage since the Dust Bowl.
Just a few weeks before the Tar Heels were to kick off their college football season at California on Sept. 1, 13 UNC players were busted and suspended by the NCAA for selling school-issued, special-edition Nike Jordan shoes. Each will serve a one- to four-game suspension, including likely starting quarterback Chazz Surratt.
Why should we care?
For all we know, this could have been a 300-level course at the university. Regardless, it is a secondary NCAA violation. As a result, early sports betting takers for the Tar Heels’ season opener are Carolina-screwed.
Tar Heels were 6-point dogs vs. Cal in Week 1. Game now off the board at several books. https://t.co/DLv2WNKdRF
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) August 6, 2018
Imagine thinking you got the value pick of the year by taking the Heels to cover. The rationale is understandable.
Last year, UNC was plagued with injuries (including Surratt). Coach Larry Fedora was forced to throw youth into the fire, likely during an already-rebuilding year, on the way to a 3-9 record.
But those young players were bound to return with enthusiasm, a full season under their belts as they attempt to revitalize a program that had reached eight bowl games in nine years heading into last season.
Surrat himself started seven of the first nine games last year and finished with a team-leading 1,342 yards passing. Defensive end Malik Carney led the team with 12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Ends Tomon Fox and Tyrone Hopper combined for 5 sacks among their 24.5 tackles. And Beau Corrales emerged late last season as an emerging and dynamic wide receiver for the heels.
Then this happens: 13 players were busted were busted for selling their Jordans off. Certainly many of those early bettors are throwing themselves down a set of M.C. Escher stairs.
So what happens now?
As noted above, the ever-exciting season opener between UNC and Cal — two programs with a combined over/under win total of 10.5 — has been pulled from several sportsbooks.
Surely the game will return once more intel comes in on the players who will be filling in for those incumbent starters. Additionally, due to several suspended playing the same position, the NCAA approved UNC’s request to stagger suspensions throughout the season. (Carney, for example, will still play Sept. 1 before missing three of the next four games.)
So now it’s up to John Nash to determine what the new line should be. Or Charlie Day.
What if either of these schools was collecting integrity fees on bets, like the NCAA initially advocated for a while back? Now these suspensions could be perceived another way as they are more under the microscope because of the school’s ties to sports betting. There’s a dystopian future to consider.
Back to the real world, though. As mentioned above, the Tar Heels were 6-point underdogs heading into the opener. Chatter abounds regarding the line once this game does return to the book.
Well before this news broke, UNC was projected by South Point sportsbook to win just five games this season. Now, word has it that the Heels could get back on the book as 7.5-point dogs.
Time will tell, however, as we wait for Will Hunting to reset the line. Or Charlie Day.