Regression is as regression does, as our third-straight AWS Biggest Mover goes in the other direction in Week 3, with the Dallas Cowboys falling 12-10 to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football. This week, we highlight one of the many teams that pulled off outright upsets on the road: the Cleveland Browns.
Prior to the season, we were a little down on the Baltimore Ravens, lukewarm on the Browns and high on the Steelers. While the Ravens got off to a hot start, the Browns and Steelers took a little bit to get going. Now, the Ravens are fading. The Browns’ Week 4 win, a victory on the road against a division foe by more than two touchdowns, has made Cleveland the favorite to win the division, with a 51.8% percent chance at the quarter-point of the season. Our simulation, powered by AWS, has the Browns averaging 8.8 wins, and with a modest 2.7 percent chance of winning their first Super Bowl title in Freddie Kitchens’ first season at the helm.
Much of what is ahead for the Browns rests on the shoulders of second-year pro Baker Mayfield, who improved Sunday against the Ravens defense, generating over 12 yards per pass attempt and over 300 total passing yards from a clean pocket despite completing only two passes to Odell Beckham Jr. Mayfield used play-action on over 28 percent of his dropbacks in Week 4, up from 23 percent in the first three weeks. They were also very solid on the ground against the Ravens, with 77 of Nick Chubb’s 165 rushing yards coming before contact.
If Baker and the offense can do their part, and health can be restored to their secondary, the defense should make this team one of the AFC’s most complete. Former No. 1-overall pick Myles Garrett’s 10.5 pass-rushing productivity is fifth among edge players with more than 100 pass-rushing snaps, while Joe Schobert leads all off-ball linebackers in stops through four weeks. Dates with the 49ers, Seahawks and Patriots coming up will test this young, talented team, but for now they are the favorites in the AFC North for the first time since late in the 2014 season.
From Week 4 to Week 5:
7.78 -> 8.83 wins
40.74% -> 64.84% to make playoffs
28.98% -> 51.78% to win the division
1.16% -> 2.66% to win the Super Bowl