The 2024 NFL playoffs get underway on Saturday afternoon when the Browns visit the Texans. The visitors are a slight -1.5 favorite but the real interesting number is 45 in the Cleveland at Houston totals betting guide.
Cleveland has the #1 defense in the NFL, but Houston has a record setting rookie QB that can move the ball up and down the field seemingly at will. The case could be made for both the ‘over’ and the ‘under’ in this meeting, but which is the way to go?
Why Under 45 Has Value
Cleveland’s defense has them believing they can make a long playoff run aside from just eliminating the Texans on Saturday afternoon. The Browns were tops in the NFL in total yards (270.2) and passing yards (164.7) and were 11th vs the run (105.5). That’s a tough matchup for rookie C.J. Stroud in his first NFL playoff game, especially with Myles Garrett (14 sacks) rested after sitting out the regular season finale.
The Texans have a very good offense, but their head coach DeMeco Ryans is a defensive minded individual. Houston ranked 6th in the NFL in rush yards allowed this season (96.6) and held three of their last four opponents in the regular season to 19 points or less.
Aside from defensive stats, another reason the under 45 has value is just the nature of the playoffs. Coaches can lean to be conservative in an elimination game, perhaps opting to play the field position game instead of being more aggressive. This is also the first postseason coaching game for Ryans and just the second for Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski who missed the team’s 2021 wild card win after testing positive for COVID.
Why Over 45 Has Value
We don’t know how much the game plan will change in the postseason, but we have a barometer of how these two clubs match up with each other thanks to their meeting on Christmas Eve that Cleveland won 36-22, easily soaring over that game’s total of 40.
If Houston doesn’t change their defensive game plan on Saturday the Cleveland at Houston totals betting is going ‘over’ yet again. Joe Flacco and Amari Cooper hooked up 11 times for a franchise receiving record 265 yards as well as 2 TDs. Overall Flacco connected on 27/42 passes for 368 yards.
The Texans may have lost the week 16 meeting, but they did put up 22 points on the Browns defense and did it without Stroud who was out with a concussion. Davis Mills threw 2 TDs in the first game with Cleveland, so what can Stroud do considering he was 20/26 for 264 yards and 2 TDs last week as Houston clinched their berth in the postseason.
Free Wild Card Browns at Texans Totals Betting Pick
Cleveland should be well rested after sitting a majority of their starters last weekend and Houston has the advantage of a somewhat unexpected home playoff game. Both Stroud and Flacco seem like pretty even-keeled QBs where not a lot gets to them – when you combine that also with both defenses being a bit banged up this looks like a play on the over 45.
Free Pick: Browns / Texans Over 45