The Cleveland Browns can’t catch a break in 2016. Already down their top two quarterbacks thanks to injuries to both Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, the Browns were looking at tough sledding heading into week three with raw rookie Cody Kessler under center.
Consider their chances to upset the Miami Dolphins even worse.
Per reports, star number one wide receiver Corey Coleman, who busted out with two scores against the Baltimore Ravens in week two, broke his hand during practice and is set to miss significant time. Coleman was shaping up to be one of Cleveland’s few remaining bright spots for a team that has started out at 0-2 and probably was headed for a rough 2016 season, regardless.
BREAKING: Browns WR Corey Coleman suffered a broken hand in practice today. (via Cleveland Plain-Dealer) pic.twitter.com/J3jNgeFQFx
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 21, 2016
Offense Takes Hit
Coleman was expected to help keep things interesting, however, as his big play ability down the field could at least help keep defenses honest and allow for the Browns to attempt to get their running game going. It would have been an especially useful component considering Kessler makes his first start this week, but with Coleman’s injury, the team will now be severely depleted when it comes to the passing game.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 22, 2016
Coleman faces an extensive absence, but fortunately will not require surgery to repair the break. Coleman is looking at a 4-6 week absence, but there is optimism he could potentially return earlier if he heals quickly.
Next Man Up
The Coleman injury is especially troubling considering Cleveland’s talent at wide receiver. With Coleman gone for at least a month and Josh Gordon (suspension) still not due back, the Browns will be forced to go to quarterback-turned-receiver Terrelle Pryor even more, starting in week three.
Pryor had displayed some promising chemistry with RG3 during the preseason, but Griffin is now likely done for the year and there’s no telling how Kessler and Pryor will fare together. Pryor has certainly been involved in the passing game with 17 targets through the first two weeks, but has been unable to produce consistently and has yet to find the end-zone. That being said, Pryor does have the size and speed to make plays all over the field, so it makes sense for him to now step up as Cleveland’s go-to wide receiver.
Whether or not Pryor can actually take advantage of a bigger role remains to be seen, but the absence of Coleman should also give way to extra snaps for the likes of Andrew Hawkins, Rishard Higgins and Jordan Payton. Who steps up and produces could be anyone’s guess, but starting out in week three, logic suggests Cleveland’s passing game could struggle mightily.
With the wide receiver position so depleted and Kessler being a huge question under center, the Browns will undoubtedly try to keep things simple, if not controlled. That could mean trying to set the the tone on the ground early, as well as short to intermediate plays involving pass-catching back Duke Johnson and tight end, Gary Barnidge.
Betting on Browns
Overall, this is a situation to avoid for NFL betting purposes. No one is surprised that the Browns are 0-2 to this point, and when you take away the team’s best two quarterbacks and top receiving weapon, their chances of winning any game are naturally going to drop dramatically.
Cleveland’s awful luck is going to cripple their chances starting immediately in week three, where they’ll try to get their first win in Miami against the Dolphins. Miami’s been a mixed bag through two weeks, but in week one exhibited a strong defense and in week two displayed a resilient offense. It’s likely they finally put a complete game together and take down the Browns, making them one of the safer NFL bets this week.
For the year, Cleveland’s betting prospects don’t get much better. Had they been healthy and gotten off to a hot start, they would have been somewhat appealing, given their super playable +6600 odds to win the AFC North, as well as their ridiculous league-worst +50000 odds to win Super Bowl 51.
Cleveland wasn’t really a sleeper playoff team going into 2016, of course, and these brutal injuries only add to the belief that they’re one of the poorest overall bets this year. Betting against the Browns in every way is the way to go in week three and beyond.