Raiders vs Browns Week 15 Picks and Predictions: Cleveland's Decimated Roster Makes Vegas The Play

The Raiders are in a total freefall but we at least know who will suit up for them on Monday. The Browns, on the other hand, have more question marks than a quirky Batman villain, and our NFL picks can't justify backing Cleveland in Week 15.

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2021 1:47 PM ET Read Time: 5 min
Derek Carr Las Vegas Raiders NFL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

NFL betting fans will have to wait for this matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns, after the game was postponed until Monday due to health & safety protocols decimating the Browns roster.

Things got moderately better for the Browns, who gained a couple of bodies back that would not have played Saturday, but their top two quarterbacks — plus a host of other key players — are still sidelined. 

The Raiders have lost five of six games and are coming off an utter humiliation against Kansas City. They opened as 6.5-point NFL betting road dogs but have seen the line flip them to favorites, as they are facing a somewhat-unrecognizable Cleveland roster — on both sides of the ball.

Here are our best free NFL picks and predictions for Raiders vs. Browns on Monday, December 20.

(Editor's Note: This preview was originally published prior to Friday afternoon's announcement that the game will be postponed until Monday night.)

Raiders vs Browns odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The line opened at Browns -6.5, but following news that as many as 20 Cleveland players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list — making them unlikely to play — the line has swung all the way to +3.5 Friday morning. When the game was postponed until Monday, the line moved back to Cleveland -3, but with today's announcement that the Browns are still missing a large chunk of the roster, the line is back to Las Vegas -2.5. The total has also shifted greatly, going from 43.5, down to 38, and back to the current 40.5.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full NFL odds before placing your bets.

Raiders vs Browns predictions

Predictions made on 12/15/2021 at 11:58 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Raiders vs Browns game info

Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Date: Monday, December 20, 2021
Time: 5:00 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network, ESPN

Raiders at Browns betting preview


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Key injuries

Raiders: Darren Waller TE (Out), Denzel Perryman LB (Out), Carl Nassib DE (Questionable), Trayvon Mullen CB (Out), Kenyan Drake RB (Out).
Browns: Harrison Bryant TE (Questionable), Malik Jackson DT (Questionable), Anthony Schwartz WR (Questionable), Kevin Stefanski HC (Out), Baker Mayfield QB (Out), Case Keenum QB (Out), Kareem Hunt RB (Out), Jarvis Landry WR (Out), Austin Hooper TE (Out), Stephen Carlson TE (Out), Jack Conklin OT (Out), Chris Hubbard OT (Out), Jedrick Wills Jr. OT (Out), Jadeveon Clowney DE (Out), Malik McDowell DE (Out), Mack Wilson LB (Out), Jacob Phillips LB (Out), Greg Newsome CB (Out), Troy Hill CB (Out), AJ Green CB (Out), Grant Delpit S (Out), Ronnie Harrison S (Out), Jamie Gillan P (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Under is 5-2 in Cleveland's last seven games as a favorite. Find more NFL betting trends for Raiders vs. Browns.

Raiders vs Browns picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

We weren't exactly enthusiastic about the Browns to begin with, considering the offense is an abject disaster and has failed to generate more than 17 points in four straight games, and seven of their last eight overall.

Yes, Cleveland won 24-22 last week against Baltimore, but Myles Garrett scored one touchdown (literally: he recorded a sack, forced a fumble, recovered it, and took it to the end zone on the same play) and the offense totally disappeared — after going up 17-0 on Baltimore with 8:15 left in the second quarter... Cleveland's offense managed 103 total yards (and zero points) for the remainder of the game. That was against a Ravens defense littered with key injuries, and the Browns hung on against a furious comeback by (checks notes) Tyler Huntley, since Lamar Jackson left the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter.

And in Week 15 it gets worse, as a COVID outbreak has utterly decimated the roster. As of Wednesday, the Browns currently have two starting offensive linemen, two of their top three tight ends, their top wide receiver, five key defensive players... plus Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, quarterback Baker Mayfield, and backup QB Case Keenum on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Nick Mullens was activated from the practice squad on Thursday and is expected to get the start. While anybody who has seen Baker play recently might argue that Mullens — who filled in admirably as the 49ers' backup last year — isn't much of a downgrade, there's a good reason that nobody else in the league even wanted him as their second-string passer. This is a team that loves running behind three-TE sets next to the league's best offensive line... and likely will be giving heavy snaps to practice squad TEs and (at best) two of its five starting linemen with practice squad guys filling in too (starting RT Jack Conklin and top reserve Chris Hubbard are both out for the year). That doesn't even consider the "normal" injuries some of the Browns' other key players are facing.

We haven't even gotten to the Raiders, who have been bursting at the seams amid numerous off-field issues and finally saw the wheels fall off in a 48-9 thrashing against Kansas City last week. But really, all you need to know is that they're still a professional football team that has the majority of its starters playing... or at least not practice squad players getting heavy rotation.

We loved the Raiders +6.5 against what was expected to be a normal Browns team at the beginning of the week. It's now flipped to have the Raiders as road chalk, but with an already-poor Cleveland offense barely able to field an NFL-caliber lineup, and the Browns defense missing four key secondary pieces, three linebackers, and two key defensive linemen, we can't reasonably expect Cleveland to keep things close.

Prediction: Raiders -2.5 (-110)

As mentioned above, even at "full" capacity, the Browns offense was vomit-inducing, with an endless array of runs and relentless six-yard passes attempting to bludgeon both defenses and fans to death. But, in addition to just being bad, the Browns offense is also pathetic in the clutch, scoring just seven points in the fourth quarter since Week 6.

No, not seven points per quarter... seven points total. One lonely touchdown in their last eight fourth quarters.

And now this offense is literally going to be unrecognizable, so we expect it to struggle offensively — even against a Raiders stop unit that has given up 32+ points in four of its last five games (with the outlier being 17 against a 23rd-ranked Washington offense).

On the flip side, Las Vegas' offense has also nosedived, with last week's nine-point "effort" capping off a string that has seen the team fall short of 17 points in five of its last six contests (the outlier being a 36-point outburst on Thanksgiving). Things won't get better against the Browns defense that, despite losing a number of key pieces due to COVID, still has Garrett, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Denzel Ward — and has given up 16 points or fewer in five of its last seven games.

On one side: a bad offense against a solid defense. On the other, a bad defense against a bunch of practice squad guys plus Nick Chubb, Nick Mullens, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Does that sound like a game that gets to 41 points? Nope.

Does that sound like a game that makes you hit a moment of existential dread as you reflect on (and regret) the decisions that brought you to this moment? Absolutely.

Prediction: Under 40.5 (-110)

While it almost seems too easy to go Under on the Browns' team total, considering they're trotting about way too many guys that will illicit "who is he?" reactions,  it's still hard to get a read on how this team will approach Monday from a game plan perspective.

The Raiders team total, on the other hand, sits at 20.5 and we have a better grasp on who will take the field.

Star TE Darren Waller is out, missing his third straight game with a knee injury. That leaves the offensive support for QB Derek Carr to fall on RB Josh Jacobs, who just ran for a season-high 46 yards last week, and WR Hunter Renfrow, who has three straight 100-yard games but will have to deal with a resurgent Denzel Ward... and the entirety of Cleveland's defensive attention.

Take away that outlier game against the Cowboys, and the Raiders are averaging 13.4 points per game since their Week 8 bye. The Browns defense has been feasting on bad offenses recently, and with all the missing bodies on the roster, they're going to want to grind this game out and control the ball with as many — wait for it — runs and short passes as possible.

So asking us to bet on Las Vegas to score more than 20 points on Saturday? Hard pass for us.

Pick: Raiders team total Under 20.5 (-115)

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