Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots
Kickoff: 1:25 p.m. PT
Everything pretty much goes out the window when dealing with a game that is likely to feature bad weather. Surviving and maintaining a high-level of play in the elements is its own battle.
Such is why the total for this Browns-Patriots affair dropped a few points from the opening line of 46, which isn’t exactly common. At the same time, it’s a decision by the linesmakers that can be capitalized upon.
Enough can’t be said of the greatness of Tom Brady. The future Hall-of-Famer is enjoying yet another pleasant year, completing 65.9 percent of his passes and throwing for 284.6 yards per game while remaining unbeaten. He’s only connected on 11 touchdowns in seven games but how could you fault Brady for that? His Patriots are routinely beating up opponents, providing no need to throw as much in the latter half of games.
One of the many, many things that has Brady comfortably positioned as one of the all-time greats is his prowess in uncomfortable weather. No matter the conditions, Brady typically gets it done it and that’s very important for this particular bet considering the rain that’s being anticipated.
Brady has played in 21 career games during the regular season that included precipitation, according to his stats on Yahoo, and overall, he collectively notched a 99.2 passer rating in those outings. That mark should stand out because it’s actually higher than his lifetime passer rating (97.5) overall. Furthermore, he recorded 38 touchdowns compared to only eight picks.
So, the rain shouldn’t be too much of a bother for Brady. He also has a new toy to play with for the first time this week in Mohamed Sanu, who the club acquired from the Atlanta Falcons. Without question, that upgrades Brady’s receiving corps. Sony Michel, meanwhile, is the type of bruising running back that can thrive in these elements.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a quarterback, Baker Mayfield, making his first-ever NFL start in the rain. While that would create extra adversity for just about any youngster, let’s recall the subject at hand: the ultra-competitive Mayfield isn’t like most signal-callers out there.
A story about the former Oklahoma Sooner from a random night in 2015 illustrates this and his potential to perform in harsh conditions. In this anecdote, Mayfield accepted his then-girlfriend’s challenge of pulling off her soccer team’s fitness test -- in the pouring rain and while wearing a dress shirt, jeans and Converse sneakers. He, unsurprisingly, was successful.
Obviously, a football game in the rain, let alone one against football’s (statistically) best defense, presents a monumentally tougher challenge but it’s that relentless attitude and mindset that I think can lead Mayfield to a productive day. He’s certainly underwhelmed thus far in his second campaign but there’s no way that’s going to continue.
Like his counterpart here, Mayfield also has a dependable back, especially for this weather, that being Nick Chubb. Having one of the most talented groups of receivers in the NFL around him also certainly helps.
And while a date with New England’s league-leading defense is far from envious, it’s not exactly as imposing as the stats might suggest, either. Remember, the Patriots have played mostly weak competition (Looking at you, Luke Falk, Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy and Josh Rosen/Ryan Fitzpatrick) that has no doubt enhanced their overall numbers.
Normally, I wouldn’t consider buying a full point (-130) unless it meant latching onto a key number in over/unders, like 41, 45 or 47/48. But in this case, with the kicking game (and decision-making) potentially being affected by the weather, I’m buying it down to 42 to be protected in case of a 28-14 final. Play: OVER 42 (-130)
Last Result: Saints-Bears Under 38 (loss)
Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 5-3, +1.5 units
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit