Browns vs Panthers Week 1 Picks and Predictions: Carolina Puts Lid On Jacoby Brissett

In what is the most unsuspecting marquee matchup on the Week 1 slate, Jacoby Brissett will lead the Browns into Carolina to take on Cleveland's former QB Baker Mayfield and his new Panthers squad. We break it all down in our NFL betting picks below.

Jason Logan: Senior Betting Analyst at Covers
Jason Logan • Senior Betting Analyst
Sep 9, 2022 • 08:58 ET • 4 min read

If the actual game between the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers is anything like the offseason line movement for this Week 1 contest, NFL bettors are in for a wild ride.

From the Deshaun Watson drama to Baker Mayfield’s move to Carolina, this non-conference clash has more intrigue than some of the marquee matchups on the board, but it’s also layered with a lot of mystery, namely around how these offenses will operate.

I try to make sense of one of the craziest NFL lines I can remember, breaking down the spread and total as well as giving my best NFL picks and predictions for Browns at Panthers.

Browns vs Panthers best odds

Browns vs Panthers picks and predictions

Browns QB Jacoby Brissett may have been in this situation before — thrust into a starting role in Indianapolis when Andrew Luck abruptly retired in 2019 — but it doesn’t mean he’s a great option under center.

Cleveland isn’t asking much from the journeyman backup, and neither are prop markets. His Week 1 passing yards total is sitting at 207.5 yards.

Brissett is a basic game manager and honestly a downgrade at QB when compared to Mayfield’s 2021 work in Cleveland (that’s saying something), which left Kevin Stefanski to call run on over 46% of plays — sixth most last season. That handoff rate will spike in Week 1 as the Browns lean on stud RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to move the chains. 

When Brissett does drop back, not only is he not a threat to push the ball downfield (averaged just 7.5 intended air yards in 2021) but he’s also a sitting duck behind a busted-up offensive line. 

Cleveland released longtime center JC Tretter in March and then lost new starting C Nick Harris and rookie G Dawson Deaton to injuries. On top of that, LT Jack Conklin is rehabbing his way back from knee surgery and is hoping to play in the opener but is listed as questionable.

Brissett is going to need all the protection he can get, considering he often holds the football too long, has lost a step when scrambling, and finished 2021 in Miami with a sack rate of 7.8% per dropback — 10th highest in the league. 

Carolina’s defense has a deep and talented roster. Injuries in the front seven and in the secondary dulled the defensive output last season and this group is very underrated as we head into 2022. The Panthers love to bring the blitz, attacking with extra pass rushers on 33.7% of dropbacks in 2021 (third most) but also have a defensive line that can get to the QB on their own. 

The Panthers, who ranked out No. 7 in EPA allowed per play in 2021, have standouts up front, headlined by DE Brian Burns, which sets the table for a rich secondary that allowed a mere 41.2% success rate to rival passing attacks last season (fourth lowest). On the year, Carolina gave up just over 192 yards passing per contest.

Also working against Brissett and the Browns' passing game could be wet weather rolling into Charlotte for this 1 p.m. ET kickoff. The extended forecast is calling for a 77% chance of thundershowers Sunday — a weather report bettors will want to keep an eye on closer to kickoff.

My best bet: Jacoby Brissett Under 207.5 passing yards (-115 at Unibet)

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Browns vs Panthers betting preview

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Spread analysis Over/Under analysis Game info Injuries Weather Trend to know

Spread analysis

Cleveland made a controversial splash by trading for quarterback Deshaun Watson in March, in the midst of multiple sexual misconduct claims against the star passer. 

A potential suspension loomed over the schedule release and the opening line for Week 1, which hit the board at Browns -4.5. With bettors looking to get ahead of any suspension news, this spread ticked down to -4. Then reports of more accusations came forward in early June and this line sunk all the way to -2.5. 

On July 6, Cleveland traded the QB Watson was replacing — much-maligned passer Baker Mayfield — to Carolina, and some books dropped this spread all the way to Cleveland -1. Oddsmakers have had mixed reactions when it comes to the spread value between Mayfield and the Panthers’ other QB, Sam Darnold. 

But the ride doesn’t end there. On August 1, Watson was handed a six-game suspension (which the league lengthened to 11 games on August 18), confirming his no-go status for this opener. Bets flooded in on Carolina and moved this spread over the fence and as far as Browns +2.5 before buyback showed up earlier this week and moved this number all the way back to pick'em at a handful of books.

According to PointsBet books, 81% of bets and 73% of handle is riding on the host team while our Covers Consensus shows 70% of picks on Carolina.

Over/Under analysis

This Over/Under hasn’t been as volatile as the spread but has seen its share of movement since the spring, opening at 43.5 and slimming to 42.5. Even when Mayfield landed in Carolina, this total didn’t budge and eventually dropped to 41 points before settling in at 41.5 across the market heading into the weekend.

The Under has drawn 83% of the handle for the total while only seeing 55% of tickets on the Under — a split that reflects early-bird bets from serious bettors over the summer getting ahead of any QB news around Watson. 

Browns vs Panthers game info

Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Date: Sunday, September 11, 2022
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET

Browns vs Panthers key injuries

Find our latest NFL injury reports.

Browns vs Panthers weather

Monitor gametime conditions with our live NFL weather info and learn how weather impacts NFL betting.

Browns vs Panthers betting trend to know

Cleveland hasn’t won a Week 1 outing since 2004. That makes the Browns 0-16-1 SU and 5-12 ATS in the last 17 years, including an 0-6-1 SU count and 3-4 ATS record the past seven seasons. Find more NFL betting trends for Browns vs. Panthers.

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