The August 23rd NFL free pick could be a historic one as it may be the last time Cleveland is favored (CLE -3) until 2019 or beyond. The Browns host last year’s Super Champions Philadelphia in week 3 of the preseason – the time when most of the starters are expected to play into the 3rd quarter. With the Eagles still resting a lot of major players until Week 1 of the ‘real’ season, could the Browns actually have more depth than the champs tonight? That’s definitely what oddsmakers seem to think heading into Thursday night’s game.
How Long Will Foles Play Tonight For Philadelphia?
One of the biggest questions heading into the August 23rd NFL free pick for Doug Pederson’s team is what to expect from the QB position. Carson Wentz will not only sit out tonight, he’s still questionable for the opener after the devastating knee injury that derailed his MVP caliber season last year. Nick Foles was 6/9 for 44 yards last week in his first preseason action but he also injured his throwing shoulder in that game. Expect limited action from Foles tonight (although he will play) as he could be under center to start the year if Wentz can’t go. The Eagles could still be a solid wager as +3 ‘dogs tonight though as 3rd stringer Nate Sudfeld is 32/53 with 5TDs and 3INTs this preseason.
Jay Ajayi should also get some work against a Cleveland defense giving up 123.5 yards on the ground this preseason. The Eagles have also dropped both of their preseason contests (to Pittsburgh and New England) while their defense is giving up 34 ppg. Tonight’s O/U of 42.5 is looking very tempting to go ‘over.’
Cleveland Looks to Build on That Winning Culture
The Browns have looked much improved this preseason (it’s hard not to), starting with a Week 1 win over the Giants and a close 2-point loss to the Bills last week. There’s a lot of fresh talented faces on the Browns team led by Baker Mayfield, Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, and Carlos Hyde. Taylor has had limited opportunities so far in the exhibition season (9/12, 121 yards and a TD) but should see more chances in tonight’s final real tune-up for the regular season. Mayfield will be the big story tonight as he threw for 212 yards and 2TD in week 1 but regressed a bit last week (7/13, 75 yards).
WR Josh Gordon reported to the team this week but won’t play in the August 23rd NFL free pick. Cleveland still has a lot of targets including Landry, big tight end David Njoku (2 TD’s in week one), and talented but troubled rookie Antonio Callaway. The Browns defense is only giving up 14.5 ppg through two preseason weeks and could see success against an Eagles offense that will be missing Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and will be playing to protect Foles.
August 23rd NFL Free Pick
So far through the preseason Philadelphia is looking like they’re playing with a championship hangover, losing two games by 17 points. The Browns should be more motivated tonight, playing in front of the home crowd for the last time until the opener against Pittsburgh and after suffering a close 2-point loss at FirstEnergy Stadium last week. When the gambling Gods give you the chance to take Cleveland giving points for the second straight week – you do it. It might not happen again in the foreseeable future.
NFL Free Pick: Cleveland Browns -3