You’d think the advent of Deshaun Watson was the equivalent of the second coming of the Messiah. The way the markets are pricing Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans, which marks Watson’s debut on the 2022 NFL season and, simultaneously, his homecoming, returning to his old stomping grounds at NRG Stadium.
The Browns are tipped as the runaway favorites at -320 to win outright at the expense of the Texans, priced at +263 on the Moneyline. Cleveland is also pegged as the -7½ favorite in point spread betting while the total is projected to 47 points.
The problem with this market is it presupposes that Watson will hit the ground running, despite not playing a single meaningful football game since the 2020 NFL season – Jan. 3, 2021, to be exact. At the same time, it also implies that the Texans have nothing to play for here either, not even pride.
Granted, the Texans are scraping the bottom of the league’s barrel with a 1-9-1 record through 12 weeks. They are pretty much done as far as the 2022 season is concerned, going nowhere fast – except the nearest golf course.
But do we really know what to expect from Watson? When he’s been on a two-year hiatus and mired in serious controversy? Moreover, is it even right to assume that the Texans don’t have a vested interest in this game? When it pits them against their former quarterback, who – let’s face it – turned his back on them abruptly in 2021, well before the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan.
Read on to find out why the Browns vs Texans game registers as a potential upset pick in our NFL predictions below. We’ll look at the latest stats, injury reports and NFL odds before we round out with our free expert NFL picks for your consideration.
Browns vs Texans NFL Odds & Lines
- Spread: Browns -7½ (+105)
- Moneyline: Browns -320 | Texans +263
- Over/Under: O47 (-110) | U47(-110)
NFL Lookaheads to Week 13 NFL Odds & Lines
Lookahead NFL lines weren’t made available for this game during the preseason because of Watson’s questionable status as the NFL investigated the charges levied against the embattled quarterback.
Ahead of Week 13, bookmakers listed the Browns at -5½. This unbiased market outlook predated Cleveland’s Week 12 game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. But following their 23-17 overtime upset of the Buccaneers, the official Week 13 opening line was Browns -7.
The fact that it was a Jacoby Brissett-inspired victory appears to be lost on this market. What’s more, the line has crept up to Browns -7½ as Watson prepares to take over as the offensive pivot.
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) November 30, 2022
Browns (Watson) Overvalued
To expect Watson to just slip into the rhythm of playing in the NFL is a bit too rich. One need only to look back at the first week of the season to find plenty of examples to the contrary among some of the best quarterbacks in the game. If they’re struggling after just one offseason, then Watson is bound to struggle after more than 18 months off.
Watson’s one preseason turnout is a small sample size to work with, but it conspicuously points to rust. He went 1 of 5 for seven passing yards in his Cleveland debut versus the Jacksonville Jaguars before calling it a day. To put a finer point on it, he looked like someone who hadn’t played in almost 600 days. That was then. Imagine what he’ll look like after missing 700-ish days.
First pass for Deshaun Watson as a Brown? overthrow. pic.twitter.com/c72GrhYLq5
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 12, 2022
Scoop on Free Play from the Locker Room
The Watson backstory and the fact that everyone is writing off Houston in this game without a second thought must motivate the Texans for this game, if only to prove everyone wrong. In some respects, this is going to be Houston’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.
The team has undergone wholesale changes since Watson refused to play in 2021 and the ensuing legal cases. They have a new head coach in Lovie Smith and a slew of players that weren’t there during Watson’s heyday. But the absence of shared history doesn’t mean that the Texans won’t get up for this game.
There are plenty of reasons for them to do just that such as pride and their fans. On a side note, it appears others will be getting up for this game – most notably, Watson’s accusers as per various reports.
— WKYC 3News (@wkyc) November 29, 2022
Browns vs Texans NFL Prediction and Prediction
The Browns are deemed to be the better team, even though they are barely afloat behind a paltry 4-7-0 record through the first 12 weeks. Watson, though, is a wild card. The likelihood of rust being a factor is something that is impossible to ignore. Put it simply, it’s hard to win games in the NFL when the quarterback stinks!
It’s often said in the NFL, you are what your record says you are. In which case, the Texans are the worst team in the league and, by that same token, they have no business winning this game. But this has been a crazy, wild season in more ways than one. And teams that have no business winning, sometimes do.
Don’t be surprised if the Texans win this game outright, never mind cover the spread. And the city of Houston puts on a parade in honor of the victory.
“The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.”