Los Angeles Rams vs Cleveland Browns: Odds and Predictions (NFL Week 3)
John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Rams 27, Browns 24. My prediction is to take the under, final score Browns 24, Rams 20.
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Current Odds Listed for Week 3: Rams vs Browns
How to Watch Rams vs Browns
What: Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns
When: Sunday Night Football, September 22 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio
How (TV): NBC
Latest point spread: Rams -3, Browns +3
In this exciting Sunday Night Football cross-conference matchup, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp and the other 2-0 Los Angeles Rams travel east to the banks of Lake Erie where they will enter FirstEnergy Stadium and take on Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb and the rest of the 1-1 Cleveland Browns.
After two games, it is clear that both teams have greatly improved their defenses from last season but neither offense has begun to catch total fire yet this early in the season, and chances are they will both have to light up early on in order to get a win in this almost equally matched nationally televised game.
Let’s take a quick look at how each of these two teams is situated in Week 3.
The 2-0-0 Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams and their youthful head coach Sean McVay may not have been able to take care of Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, but they made easy work out of the New Orleans Saints last week and managed to squeak by the Carolina Panthers by a field goal in Week 1, keeping the team undefeated so far in 2019.
The Rams’ pass rush looks strong, led by brilliant and brutal defensive tackle Aaron Donald, whose inadvertent palm strike on Drew Brees’ extended thumb took the Saints’ 40-year old quarterback off the field for months.
Los Angeles’ offense has started out on the sluggish side, relatively speaking, but there have been flashes of brilliance from running back Todd Gurley along with some sweet connections between fourth-year quarterback Jared Goff and receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, enough to remind everyone watching of how good this Rams team continues to be.
If you want to read more on the Los Angeles Rams you can check out their biggest offseason moves and the predictions we made for their 2019-2020 season.
The 1-1-0 Cleveland Browns
Speaking of slow-starting offenses and killer pass rushes that have taken opposing quarterbacks out of the game, the 1-1 Cleveland Browns have both after defensive end Myles Garrett accidentally hurt New York Jets backup quarterback Trevor Siemian, who is now on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
And yes, the Browns’ over-hyped offense hasn’t exactly turned on the big burners just yet, but there have been moments of glory between confidently cocky quarterback Baker Mayfield and gifted wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, plus hard-hitting running back Nick Chubb looks almost up to speed and it appears he can confidently catch the ball, as well.
Do not be fooled by the Browns’ first-time head coach Freddie Kitchen’s slow start against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, just watch Beckham’s 89-yard touchdown catch against the hobbled New York Jets in Week 2 and the Browns’ 8 sacks in two games (T-2nd most in the league) and you can imagine how good this Cleveland team can be on both sides of the ball, if only Mayfield can re-learn how to get rid of the ball a whole lot quicker.
Read more about what the Cleveland Browns odds to make it to the postseason.
What’s at Stake?
These two teams have met 23 total times (including 3 postseason games), with Cleveland winning 11 of those games and Los Angeles winning 12 games.
The Rams have won the last four out of five matchups with the Browns, the latest win being back in October of the 2015 season when they defeated Cleveland by a score of 24-6.
If the Rams win this matchup, they’ll be 3-0-0 and stay atop the NFC West, where both the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks are also undefeated going into Week 3.
But if the Browns come out on top, then they’ll climb to 2-1-0 and become the only other relevant team in the AFC North beside the Baltimore Ravens, who are 2-0 going into Week 3 to face the Kansas City Chiefs.
For more details on that exciting matchup, please check out our prior coverage:
Questions to Answer
Who’s favored to win this Week 3 Rams-Browns matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Rams and the Browns next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Offensive Stats Comparison
Los Angeles Rams overall offense
- Ranked 2nd overall in 2018
- Ranked 13th overall in 2019
Los Angeles’ passing offense is ranked 21st overall right now after throwing for 224 yards per game.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff currently has middle-of-the-road numbers, his 469 passing yards on 42 completions ranked 19th in the league, also with 2 touchdown passes and an interception.
Currently, Los Angeles’ most effective receiver is Cooper Kupp, who has caught 12 balls for 166 yards but with no touchdowns.
The Rams are good on the ground, ranked 7th in that category after running for 140.5 yards per game these last two weeks.
Rams running back Todd Gurley hasn’t shown any of the wear and tear he seemed slowed down by at the end of last season, running the ball 30 times so far for 160 yards and a touchdown, ranked 9th in the league at his position right now.
Gurley can also catch the ball, but he has not been doing much of that these first two weeks, so far pulling in just 4 catches for 8 total yards.
The Rams have scored 57 total points so far, 7th most in the league.
Los Angeles offensive injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 3: center Austin Blythe (ankle), running back Malcolm Brown (ankle) and tight end Tyler Higbee (chest).
Injury notes: none
Cleveland Browns overall offense
- Ranked 13th overall in 2018
- Ranked 15th overall in 2019
Right now, the Cleveland Browns are tied for the 13th best passing attack, having thrown for an average of 274.5 yards per game but with 4 interceptions (so far that’s the 3rd most in the league).
Despite appearing indecisive and slow at times, second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield is having a terrific follow up to his rookie season, so far averaging 305.0 yards of passing per game, 8th best overall.
His best target (as expected) has been Odell Beckham Jr., who has caught 13 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown, averaging 17.8 yards per reception.
Cleveland’s rushing attack is ranked 22nd overall, averaging 86.0 yards on the ground per game after two weeks.
Browns second-year running back Nick Chubb is ranked 14th most productive after rushing the ball 35 times for 137 yards and a touchdown, his longest being a 19-yard touchdown run against the Jets in Week 2.
The Cleveland Browns have scored 36 total points so far, ranked 23rd most in the league.
Browns’ offensive suspensions
Wide receiver Antonio Callaway, the Browns’ backup deep threat, was suspended for 4 games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Running back Kareem Hunt will join the team in Week 9 after serving his 8-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Cleveland offensive injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 3: guard Joel Bitonio (abdomen), wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee), offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (foot) and offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (knee)
Injury notes: tight end David Njoku (wrist) is listed as OUT, while center Lo Falemaka (shoulder), guard Drew Forbes (knee), fullback Joe Kerridge (concussion), wide receiver D.J. Montgomery (hamstring) and quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) have all been placed on injured reserve.
Given how many more points the Rams have scored than the Browns so far this season, Los Angeles has the offensive advantage in the game, though expect Mayfield to excel in front of his home crowd.
Defensive Stats Comparison
Los Angeles Rams overall defense
- Ranked 19th overall in 2018
- Ranked 5th overall in 2019
The Rams are ranked 7th best in pass coverage right now after keeping opponents to 201.5 passing yards per game.
Los Angeles has intercepted 2 passes and have sacked opposing quarterbacks 5 times.
The Rams will be tough for the Browns’ Chubb to run against, ranked 9th against the ground attack, allowing opponents to gain just 92.0 rushing yards per game.
Los Angeles’ defense allows opponents to score 18 points a game, tied for 9th least in the NFL this season.
Rams defensive players to watch
One of the league’s top tacklers is Rams inside linebacker Cory Littleton, who has 22 tackles in two games, plus an interception, 5 passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Defensive end Dante Fowler already has 2.0 sacks and eight tackles, so look for him to apply pressure to the Browns banged up the front line.
Watch for strong safety John Johnson, who has an interception and 2 passes defended plus 17 tackles.
Rams defensive injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 3: defensive tackle Aaron Donald (back)
Injury notes: linebackers Josh Carraway (Achilles), Micah Kiser (pectoral) and Justin Lawler (foot) have all been placed on injured reserve.
Cleveland Browns overall defense
- Ranked 30th overall in 2018
- Ranked 7th overall in 2019
The Browns have the 5th best pass coverage in the NFL after two games, allowing opponents to throw for just 192.5 yards per game.
Cleveland has no interceptions at this point, but 8 total quarterback sacks, which is tied for the second-most in the league.
Cleveland is 14th best against the run after allowing opponents to average 108.0 yards on the ground per game.
The Browns’ defense has allowed opponents to score 23 points per game, 19th least in the league.
Browns defensive players to watch
Defensive end Myles Garrett already has a league-leading 5.0 sacks plus 10 tackles, and with his size, speed and moves, expect him to be all over Jared Goff on Sunday.
Have fun watching one of the best NFL middle linebackers, the Browns’ Joe Schobert, now with the 5th most tackles in the league (21) and a forced fumble.
No Browns players have intercepted a pass yet, but keep your eyes on cornerbacks Denzel Ward and rookie Greedy Williams, because, given Cleveland’s unforgiving pass rush, it is only a matter of time before one of these two (or both) pick a ball.
Browns defensive injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 3: safety Morgan Burnett (quadriceps), linebacker Christian Kirksey (undisclosed), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (undisclosed), safety Damarious Randall (concussion) and linebacker Adarius Taylor (ankle).
Injury notes: none
These two defenses are close, but the upgraded Cleveland Browns D-line is ferocious anywhere and at home, in front of their fans they definitely have the advantage.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Los Angeles’ punter, Johnny Hekker, is in his ninth NFL season, fifth with the Rams, and this season he has punted 7 times for a net average of 34.9 yards per punt, which was the 30th best in the league.
Cleveland’s punter, Jamie Gillan, aka the “Scottish Hammer,” is in his first NFL season and he has punted 11 times so far this season for a net average of 41.7 yards per punt, which was the 17th best in the league.
Los Angeles’ placekicker, Greg Zuerlein, is in his ninth NFL season, his fifth with the Rams.
Zuerlein is 5-of-6 so far this season, his longest a 56-yarder, and he has missed zero extra point attempts (6/6).
Cleveland’s placekicker, Austin Seibert, is in his first season with the Browns after beating out last year’s starter, Greg Joseph, in the preseason.
Seibert has made 3-of-3 field goals this year and he missed an extra point attempt (3/4).
Los Angeles’ punt returner, wide receiver JoJo Natson, is ranked 4th in average punt return yardage this season.
Natson has returned 4 punts for 61 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per return, his longest for 32 yards.
Cleveland’s punt returner is now wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who is currently ranked 7th in average punt return yardage.
Landry has returned 4 punts for 48 yards, averaging 12.0 yards per return, his longest for 18 yards.
Special teams advantage
The Los Angeles Rams have more veterans on their special teams so they have a slight advantage, but the Browns do have the Scottish Hammer so that almost evens things out.
Final Game Analysis
Why will the Rams win this game?
The Los Angeles Rams are no stranger to big games like this one – nationally televised and away from home, and they will not shrink in the spotlight, but instead take care of these upstart Browns who still have a few seasons until they become a worthy opponent.
With a more seasoned head coach in McVay matching wits with a rookie like Kitchens, plus a healthy Gurley and Kupp and a quarterback that looks accurate, the Rams are beginning to fire on all cylinders and will demonstrate just how deadly they can be against these offensively sluggish Browns.
The Rams defensive line needs to take advantage of the banged-up shape the Browns offensive line is right now and get after Mayfield with a pressure that keeps him from getting too clever, then an away victory will come their way along with a 3-0 start to their season.
Why will the Browns win this game?
For the Cleveland Browns to beat the Los Angeles Rams, they will have to be in Jared Goff’s face the entire game until he begins to force throws and make mistakes that the Browns’ secondary can intercept.
The Browns offense has had two games to get oiled up, and if they want to beat an accomplished high-scoring team like the Rams, then they will have to start using their playmakers to score touchdowns instead of field goals.
Time for head coach Freddie Kitchens to bring the potential of his Browns’ marvelous paper roster onto the field against a favored opponent like the Rams, and if Cleveland’s defense can continue being brutal (but without the stupid penalties) while the offense starts to open up to full throttle, this will be a fun and surprising win at home for the Browns.
This game goes to
The Cleveland Browns, who will squeak by the Rams at home by 4 points.
Final score Browns 24, Rams 20.
John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Rams 27, Browns 24.
My prediction is to take the under, final score Browns 24, Rams 20.