The NFL (pre)season is finally here! The preseason already kicked off on Sunday with the Minnesota Vikings beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame game. Tonight, it’s Cleveland and Washington’s turn to end their football hibernation. This will be the 13th preseason meeting between the two franchises since 1961 with Washington carrying a 9-3 advantage in their head-to-head matchup.
Can the Redskins continue their preseason dominance of the Browns? Or will Cleveland exact some revenge this time around? Read on below for a preview of this exciting NFL showdown and while you’re at it, you can check out our preseason previews of Green Bay vs. New England and Miami vs. Chicago.[sc:Football ]
Washington Redskins vs. Cleveland Browns Betting Preview
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
When: Thursday, August 13, 8:00 PM ET
Line: Washington Redskins (+2) at Cleveland Browns (-2); total: 37.5 – view all NFL lines
Betting on the Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins will open their 2015 preseason campaign on the road later tonight as the team travels to FirstEnergy Stadium to face the Cleveland Browns. The game marks the second preseason meeting between the teams in as many years, with Washington defeating Cleveland, 24-23, at FedEx Field last preseason.
[sc:NFL240banner ]All eyes will be on quarterback Robert Griffin III as he looks to regain the form that earned him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors back in 2012. In his last two years with Washington, he has won only five games in 20 starts. He has thrown nearly as many interceptions (18) as touchdown passes (20) while battling a string of injuries.
The pressure is on second-year head coach Jon Gruden to bring the best out of Griffin as well. Gruden’s ideal quarterback makes early decisions and releases the ball quickly. His former quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals, Andy Dalton, has led the NFL with an average release time of 2.30 seconds during the past three years, according to ESPN. Over that same stretch, Griffin had the ninth-slowest release time at 2.67 seconds. It’s no surprise then that Griffin suffered the second-highest ratio of sacks to dropbacks in the NFL (8.0) during that period.
Griffin looked confident, though, in his final full practice before tonight’s preseason opener. He unofficially completed all 13 of his pass attempts on the day including a 55-yard touchdown pass to tight end Niles Paul during 11-on-11s. Griffin is expected to play around a quarter or so against the Browns this evening.
The Redskins are 5-0 in their last five preseason openers.
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Betting on the Cleveland Browns
Head coach Mike Pettine will enter this year’s preseason with a chip on his shoulder after a disappointing rookie campaign in 2014. Cleveland finished at the bottom of the highly-competitive AFC North last season, ending up with a dismal 7-9 slate.
To improve on their squad, the Browns drafted a league-high 12 players in the 2015 NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see how the Browns’ rookies will fare in their first taste of live-action football tonight. One of the key players to watch this evening is Danny Shelton. The 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, Shelton has looked dominant this past training camp in his role as defensive tackle. He is expected to boost a Cleveland defense that allowed a league-worst 2,265 rushing yards last season.
Shelton and fellow rookie lineman Xavier Cooper will have their work cut out for them later tonight as they will face Washington’s premier running back Alfred Morris. Morris has averaged 1,320 and nine touchdowns per year in his first three NFL seasons with the Redskins.
Apart from Shelton, the Browns’ faithful will also be keeping a keen eye on sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel. The former Texas A&M star has shown good progress thus far through camp, improving his field vision and displaying better accuracy. In fact, he completed 9 of 11 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns in Cleveland’s intrasquad scrimmage at Ohio State.
That being said, it’s still highly likely that Josh McCown will be the Browns’ starting QB this year. He completed 184-of-327 passes for 2,206 yards in 11 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. He’ll replace starter Brian Hoyer who was traded to the Houston Texans this past March. Hoyer led the Browns in passing last season, completing 242-of-438 passes for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
The total has gone under in Cleveland’s last six home games.
Cleveland (-2) covers the spread with a 21-17 victory.[sc:NFL490Banner ]
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